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Stock Downgrades: Staples Still the 'Bain' of Investors Lives

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

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That fabled USA-UK special relationship may be in tatters over Syria but yesterday transatlantic cooperation was instrumental in equities scoring a second straight advance. This as America's Verizon (NYSE:VZ) rose 2.71% to top all Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) after closing in on a $130 billion deal with Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) of England, whose own 8.13% increase lead the entire Nasdaq-100 Index (INDEXNASDAQ:NDX). Elsewhere Michael Jackson's AutoNation (NYSE:AN) rose 3.06%, which was a nice way to celebrate his birthday. The zombies of Thriller are making for an impressively lucrative afterlife for the King of Pop. His bank balance likely swelled even further yesterday after an analyst inspired 3.21% increase in Walking Dead owner AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX).

Today in economics, this month's Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index is out at 9:45 a.m. Eastern, followed by the University of Michigan's final figure for August consumer confidence at 9:55 a.m. On the earnings front, Big Lots (NYSE:BIG), Hermès International (OTCMKTS:HESAY), ReneSola (NYSE:SOL), Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (NASDAQ:SHOS), and Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE) are all due to report results.

Chinese Internet Stocks: Dangdang (NYSE:DANG) gets downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JP Morgan, which moves NetEase, Inc. (NASDAQ:NTES) and Youku Tudou Inc (NYSE:YOKU) to Neutral from Overweight.

Joy Global Inc. (NYSE:JOY): BB&T Capital takes the maker of earth-moving equipment, which has endured a tough time of late, to Hold from Buy.

Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK): The telecom titan from Finland is now Reduce from Neutral at Swedbank, sending shares tumbling about 2.25% as I write.

OmniVision Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:OVTI): Troubled by competitive issues and an overall lack of earnings visibility, Oppenheimer slashes the semiconductor stock to Perform from Outperform. Shares are tumbling about 12% today and Craig-Hallum (Hold from Buy) adds to the agony.

Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS): The office supply superstore launched by Bain Capital in the 1980s is now Neutral from Overweight at JP Morgan. Last week the stock suffered its single worst session for more than two years.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Ctrip.com Going Nowhere Ahead of Labor Day and Stock Upgrades: Splunk Looks Like a Slam Dunk)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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