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Stock Ratings Changes: Walt Disney Laughing All the Way to Burbank


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

The Wolf of Wall Street was the talk of the town, but US stock markets instead reenacted another Martin Scorsese movie - Raging Bull. The S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) and Dow Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI), up a respective 1.27% and 1.59%, each rose to records in holiday-truncated trading. In a week when the Fed, charged with saving the banks in 2008, turned 100 years young, Christopher & Banks (NYSE:CBK) took its five-day advance to 10.19%, and fellow apparel outfit Jos. A. Bank (NASDAQ:JOSB) - Ben Bernanke's favorite suit store - firmly beat back a takeover bid. Eliot Spitzer, the financial industry's longtime bête noire, should surely shop there for slacks, as he once again lost his pants in the Post. (With the price of stamps surging 6% - who says inflation is absent? - getting them back will prove costly.) This after Mr. Spitzer decided to divorce on, of all days, December 24, the year's single most popular date to propose marriage. He thus ended nuptials begun in 1987 -- the year Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) went public -- and, after being ordered to pay Swatch (OTCMKTS:SWGAY) $449 million, the ring king also endured a week from hell. If the "Love Guv" is fed up with being on front pages, other covers made for equally entertaining reading. "Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) Rally Picks Up Steam" said Wall Street Journal on Friday, while USA Today went with "Twitter Shares Take Flight." Fate, foolishly tempted, combined with a rating reduction to swiftly send the stock skidding 13.04%. Barron's, for its part, wondered aloud why Jordan Belfort should make almost a million bucks for movie rights even as his victims were so wronged. This as Stanley O'Neal similarly didn't get what was rightly owed him. Instead, the man who brought 100-year-old Merrill Lynch to its knees overnight, parachuted out with a multi-million dollar pay packet, and now enjoys a cushy seat on the board of Alcoa (NYSE:AA), saw that stock advance 7.6%. And, "Can UPS Save Christmas?" asked Bloomberg Businessweek, answering emphatically in the affirmative by declaring of United Parcel Service's (NYSE:UPS) head honcho, "He'll make your Christmas dreams come true." Unfortunately, it seems Santa never got the message.

In terms of economic events that may move US markets today, November pending home sales are expected to arrest a five-month slump at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, America's largest egg producer Cal-Maine Foods (NASDAQ:CALM) missed Q2 earnings estimates when it released results earlier this morning.

Emerald Oil (NYSEMKT:EOX): Iberia initiates the energy equity at an Outperform.

Entergy (NYSE:ETR): Electric utility Entergy is a new Neutral at Goldman Sachs. Its price objective on Entergy stock is $62.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE:MSO): Citing a steep valuation, National Alliance Securities slashes the stock to Hold from Buy.

Myriad Genetics (NASDAQ:MYGN): JMP Securities moves Myriad Genetics to Underperform from Perform. This amid media reports that Medicare reimbursement rates will be reduced for tests aimed at gauging breast cancer risk. Accordingly, Myriad Genetics stock is sliding ahead of this morning's opening bell.

Ocera Therapeutics (NASDAQ:OCRX): Shares are started with a Buy recommendation and $19 target price at Stifel, which cites the potential of the company's proposed OCR-002 to treat hepatic encephalopathy.

POZEN (NASDAQ:POZN): Ascendiant Capital cuts the stock considerably, to Neutral from Strong Buy, sending it 1.94% lower as we speak.

Southern Copper (NYSE:SCCO): Shares are boosted to Buy from Hold at BB&T Capital.

StoneCastle Financial (NASDAQ:BANX): BANX gets begun with a Perform at JMP Securities.

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS): Burbank-based entertainment outfit Walt Disney, a key Dow component, gets upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Guggenheim. Its price objective, previously $77, increases to $87. On Friday, Walt Disney shares hit the highest level in their history, and have now gained 50.11% in the past 12 months. The "Mouse House" is currently moving even higher this morning as a result of this analyst's action.

Westmoreland Coal (NASDAQ:WLB): Brean Capital has a Buy rating, and $22 target, on the recently-surging commodity company.

Xencor (NASDAQ:XNCR): Shares are launched with an Outperform at Leerink Swann, whose objective is $11.
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