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Stock Downgrades: Tears at Comedy Central Owner Viacom

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

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From Lehman Brothers to the Jonas Brothers in five years is a funny kind of progress, but Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) yesterday learned the hard way just how much can happen in 6 Minutes. Equities brushed off yet another trading outage at the exchange and opted instead to spend 7 Minutes in Heaven, from where PennyMac Financial (NYSE:PFSI) - up 3.55% - and JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) - a 6.13% gainer - each descended in the ascendancy. The Nasdaq glitch specifically started with the symbol PC, adding insult to injury for the personal computer industry on a day an unloved Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) dropped a Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI)-worst 2.15%. The auto industry, also left for dead not long ago, came back to life in a big way with General Motors (NYSE:GM) gaining 5.01%. Its headquarters are in Motown's marvelously misnamed Renaissance Center but that unfortunate Detroit paramedic who recently suffered a heart attack while performing CPR still seems a more apt metaphor for the town's ailing economy.

This morning, consensus calls for a falloff in factory orders for July and August's Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index, each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the quarterly earnings front, Conn's (NASDAQ:CONN), Finisar (NASDAQ:FNSR), Quiksilver (NYSE:ZQK), Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWHC), and VeriFone (NYSE:PAY) are all expected to release results.

ABB Limited (NYSE:ABB) The European industrial equipment stock is slashed to Equal-Weight from Overweight by Barclays.

First Majestic Silver (NYSE:AG): BMO Capital cuts the commodity company to Market Perform from Outperform.

Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT): The aerospace and defense stock gets lowered to Sector Perform from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets.

Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM): NEM is now Equal-Weight from Overweight at Barclays.

OpenTable Inc (NASDAQ:OPEN): Morgan Stanley moves the Internet restaurant reservation outfit to Underweight from Equal-Weight.

ProAssurance (NYSE:PRA): The property and casualty insurance company is cut to Neutral from Buy at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey.

Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB): B. Riley reduces its rating on the owner of Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon to Neutral from Buy. Valuation issues are cited, with the stock up 62.28% in the past year and now trading within 6.1% of the brokerage's $85 price objective.

Zillow Inc (NASDAQ:Z): The online real estate name is now Underweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Starbucks Easily Worth Eighty Bucks and Stock Upgrades: Groupon Is Your Deal of the Day.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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