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Stock Downgrades: Research In Motion Rolling Downhill

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Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL The White House and housing starts helped stopped a two-session stock surge in its tracks, as fiscal cliff talks stalled and new housing starts fell 3% in November. John Boehner's pledge to pursue a parallel legislative track on taxes did at least send American Railcar (ARII) rising 4.77% to a fresh 52-week peak on an otherwise down day.

A ratings reduction on General Electric (GE), a company uncomfortably connected to the Connecticut shooting, took it down 3.14% to lead Dow (^DJI) laggards. Firearms firm Smith & Wesson (SWHC) was also downgraded yet surged 7.19% on the same day Dirty Harry - whose bloody body count stood at seven - was added to the National Film Registry. America's relationship with guns apparently remains as complicated as ever.

Today in economics, November existing home sales and leading indicators are each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, as is December's Philadelphia Fed Index. On the corporate front, CarMax (KMX), Cintas (CTAS), ConAgra (CAG), Darden Restaurants (DRI), Discover Financial (DFS), KB Home (KBH), Micron (MU), Nike (NKE), Research In Motion (RIMM), Rite Aid (RAD), and Winnebago Industries (WGO) are all due to release results.

Alterra Capital (ALTE): Deutsche Bank downgrades the stock, citing the takeover by Markel (MKL). It does not expect a higher bid for the company to emerge.

Arbitron (ARB): Shares are downgraded to Underweight from Overweight at Piper Jaffray.

AvalonBay (AVB): Stifel Nicolaus reduces the residential REIT to Hold from Buy.

Greenbrier Cos. (GBX): GBX gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus.

NewStar Financial (NEWS) Janney Capital cuts the company to Sell from Neutral due to valuation, increased competition, and growth concerns. The target is taken to $11 from $13.

PartnerRe (PRE): Shares are moved to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM): RIMM is reduced to Hold from Buy at Hudson Securities, which says the risk/reward ratio of owning the shares into the expected launch of BlackBerry 10 next month has become less compelling

SandRidge Energy (SD): SD is downgraded to Hold from Buy at KeyBanc.

Silgan Holdings (SLGN): Troubled by a high relative valuation, Goldman Sachs slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral. Its price objective is $42.

Target (TGT): TGT is taken to Neutral from Buy at Cleveland Research.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Porsche Stuck in Neutral and Stock Upgrades: Guinness Owner Diageo Swimming in Sea of Green.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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