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Stock Downgrades: What Ails Guinness Maker Diageo plc?

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

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On the day Pope John Paul II took a step toward sainthood, how the market could have used his Midas touch in equities. Instead, Satan took center stage as the S&P 500 (^GSPC) breached its 6/6 low of 1598.23 and the "devil's metal" silver nosedived 9% as commodities cratered along with stocks.

The National Association of Realtors actually complained that "home price growth is too fast," which is a heck of a problem to have. (Homebuilder Hovnanian (HOV) has more serious issues, falling 5.47% as the sector endured a terrible session.)

Elsewhere, the Philadelphia Fed Index hit its highest level since April of 2011. This as Urban Outfitters (URBN) - for whom happiness is a warm gun, despite also being based in the City of Brotherly Love - lost 1.85% even as it was begun with a bullish buy rating.

No top-tier economic data due today, although quadruple witching sessions rarely lack drama. In corporate earnings action, CarMax (KMX), Carnival Corporation (CCL), and Darden Restaurants (DRI) are all due to release results.

Allergan, Inc. (AGN): The Botox maker gets moved to Neutral from Buy at Goldman Sachs.

C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. (CHRW): Shares get slashed to Sell from Neutral at Goldman Sachs.

Diageo plc (DEO): The alcohol giant is downgraded to Hold from Buy at Banco Santander.

Fulton Financial Corp (FULT): Credit Suisse cuts the company to Underperform from Neutral.

Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc (IDIX): The stock is now Underperform from Neutral at Robert W. Baird, which says that the Food and Drug Administration's decision to delay one of its offerings is an ominous development. Shares are slumping 35% at the moment.

ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ESI): Shares get downgraded to Sell from Hold at Argus.

Newmont Mining Corp (NEM): UBS reduces the recently-slumping commodity company to Neutral from Buy.

Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc (QCOR): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lowers its investment opinion to Neutral from Buy.

SPX Corporation (SPW): shares are slashed to Sell from Neutral at Citigroup.

Zynga Inc (ZNGA): Morgan Stanley moves the social gaming stock to Underweight from Equal-Weight.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Darling International Inc. Feels the Love and Stock Upgrades: Facebook Inc Enjoys Its 15 Seconds of Fame.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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