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Stock Downgrades: Royal Dutch Shell Is All at Sea

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

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Beware Greeks bearing gifts? To be fair to Athens' main man, his White House visit on Thursday dovetailed with the Dow's (^DJI) only increase all week. (Even as Mr. Samaras made his "presents" felt with record unemployment announced hours earlier.) No, to explain stocks' worst showing since late June, we must look much closer to home. Specifically the homebuilders, with the likes of DR Horton (DHI) dropping 7.3% as it became clear even multimillionaire ex-Presidents can't afford the security deposit some are charging in this renewed real estate bubble. Among equities to buck a bad tape was Tesla Motors (TSLA), owned by Pretoria's prodigal son Elon Musk. It advanced 11% to a fresh best. One wonders what these endlessly inventive South African entrepreneurs will think of next. Beer drones? In the thinnest overall S&P 500 (^GSPC) volume since August 2006, Weight Watchers (WTW) tumbled 20.11% and Bank of America (BAC), wary of that "fat kid in dodgeball," imploded 2.6%. Elsewhere Yahoo (YHOO) offered its newly acquired wonder kid $110 million provided he promises to stick around for four years. Are you listening, JC Penney (JCP)?

Today in economics, the Treasury releases its July budget at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. On the quarterly earnings front, Ceragon Networks (CRNT), Sysco Corporation (SYY), Icahn Enterprises (IEP), and WuXi PharmaTech (WX) are all expected to announce results.

Arch Capital (ACGL): Keefe Bruyette cuts the company to Underperform from Market Perform.

Atwood Oceanics (ATW): Tudor Pickering takes the energy outfit to Accumulate from Buy.

Broadcom (BRCM): Shares are lower ahead of this morning's opening bell getting downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs. Eroding market share for its chips is a worry.

Helmerich & Payne (HP): Argus cuts the company to Hold from Buy due to valuation after a strong recent run.

ING US (VOYA): The relatively recent initial public offering is now Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Juniper Networks (JNPR): The tech stock is taken to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets.

Ladbrokes (LON:LAD): Not worth a bet? Shares of the British bookmaker are slumping in today's London trading on an Underweight-from-Neutral downgrade at JPMorgan. Heightened Internet competition is among the bank's concerns.

Lithia Motors LAD is lowered to Neutral from Buy at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Olympic Steel (ZEUS): Macquarie moves the commodity company to Neutral from Outperform.

Quiksilver (ZQK): Brokerage boutique B. Riley & Co. reduces the retailer to Neutral from Buy.

Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (RDS.A): The overseas oil giant gets reduced to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer. Issues include ongoing losses in the Americas, setbacks in Nigeria, and increased spending.

Royal KPN (KKPNY): Shares are now Reduce from Neutral at Natixis Bleichroeder.

Tesla Motors (TSLA): Lazard lowers the electric car company to Neutral from Buy after last week's 11% advance. Shares are lower ahead of the open as a result.

Vitamin Shoppe (VSI): Credit Suisse takes the stock to Neutral from Outperform.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Tiffany & Co. Is a Rhinestone Cowboy and Stock Upgrades: There's Dollars In Krispy Kreme Doughnuts)

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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