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Stock Upgrades: Alaska Air Comes in From the Cold

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

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The long and the short of it? On his birthday, left-leaning economist John Kenneth Galbraith - who stood 6 feet, 8 inches - temporarily triumphed over laissez-faire champion Milton Friedman, who topped out at 5'0.″ (Never mind that the latter will always be the true giant to many of us.) On a bad day for capitalism, Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropped by triple digits amid more political mayhem. It was an especially tall Sir Lancelot - or long knight - for Burberry (OTCMKTS:BURBY), which imploded 8.39% after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) picked off its top executive.

With nothing else working in our nation's capital, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington did prove profitable, as FedEx's (NYSE:FDX) CEO saw his stock surge 4.08%. Also bucking a bad tape was an upgraded Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Its PowerPoint is suddenly all the rage among Iran's mullahs. But I've bad news for the Barbie-banners; Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) is surging some 5.42% after it beat the Street this morning.

Today in economics, the Fed will release its Beige Book, detailing economic conditions in a dozen districts, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Hump Day of the first full week for third quarter earnings announcements is upon us, with American Express (NYSE:AXP), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY), International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM), and PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) among a multitude of big names due to report results.

Alaska Air (NYSE:ALK): Shares, soft of late, get upgraded to Outperform from In-line Imperial Capital, which also increases its price objective by $7 to $70 from $63. The broker believes competitive concerns regarding Delta (NYSE:DAL) may be overstated.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): Deutsche Bank adds the stock to its Short Term Buy List.

BT Group (NYSE:BT): The British telecom titan is bucking a broadly lower London tape today after being added to the Conviction Buy list at Goldman Sachs.

Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW): The stock, up sharply yesterday, is now Neutral from Sell at Compass Point amid an increasingly attractive interest rate environment. Its price objective, previously $17, gets taken to $20.

Deutsche Post (OTCMKTS:DPSGY): HSBC Securities hoists the stock to Neutral from Underweight.

Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE:EW): EW is increased to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC): The semiconductor stock, a key Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) component, gets a Buy-from-Hold après-earnings upgrade at B. Riley & Co.

Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR): MKM Partners takes the tech stock to Buy from Neutral.

Marsh & McLennan (NYSE:MMC): Credit Suisse moves its fellow financial firm to Outperform from Neutral.

Melco Crown Entertainment (NASDAQ:MPEL): Jefferies juices its investment assessment to Buy from Hold.

Pearson (NYSE:PSO): The Financial Times publisher is hoisted to Hold from Sell at Société Générale.

Sprint (NYSE:S): Shares get upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO): Crédit Agricole raises its rating to Outperform from Underperform.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Now's Not the Time to Be Overweight Vivus and New Stock Coverage: Mice at Whole Foods? Fat Cats Don't Care.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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