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Stock Upgrades: Fear Not, 76ers Fans, As Alcoa Proves Pennsylvania Still Has Some Pride

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

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After Ronald Reagan and the Pope met for the first time in June 1982, the biggest bull market in Wall Street history ensued within two months. Who knows -- yesterday's Vatican visit by President Obama might end up inspiring another almighty run come May, but the early omens aren't auspicious. Dow Industrials (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropped again as, indeed, did a box of coins Potus presented to the Pontiff. Not once, but twice. At least England's "Iron Lady" --- the other one of the "three 'P's' who won the Cold War -- would have enjoyed an analyst-inspired 1.82% advance in anti-anemia powerhouse Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN). Visa (NYSE:V) was nowhere you wanted to be after it was violently attacked by a brutal power, the planet's third largest after our own Defense Department and China's People's Liberation Army. Vlad the Impaler's Russia? Heck no. Well, yes actually, but I was really referring to Walmart (NYSE:WMT). The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) gained 2.10% on a broker boost, with Evercore impressed with its foray into native advertising. (This, even as the newspaper, as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is all too aware, has endured the week from hell with its ads.) And a decree that 12 million men must adopt a hairstyle identical to the Kim clan -- mercifully not the Kardashians -- sent Supercuts owner Regis Corp. (NYSE:RGS) tumbling 2.26%.
 
Today in economics, the University of Michigan's March consumer sentiment survey is expected to tick up slightly from February's pace at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. On the corporate front, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) and Finish Line (NASDAQ:FINL) each released results earlier this morning.
 
Agnico-Eagle (NYSE:AEM): Canaccord hoists the commodity company to Buy from Hold.
 
Alcoa (NYSE:AA): The Philadelphia 76ers just sunk to a new low, prompting some cynical sorts to suggest the team may even be losing on purpose. (Perish the thought.) The picture is much brighter over in Pittsburgh, however. This Steel City icon, up a S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX)-best 6.16% to a two-and-a-half-year high yesterday, is now Neutral from Underperform at Macquarie. The broker also doubles its target price, to $10.
 
BofI Holding (NASDAQ:BOFI): Raymond James raises its recommendation to Outperform from Perform.
 
Fidus Investment (NASDAQ:FDUS): Shares are increased to Strong Buy from Outperform, again at Raymond James.
 
Finisar (NASDAQ:FNSR): Applauding the firm's fixed-cost model, RBC Capital Markets moves its stock to Outperform from Sector Perform. Its price objective is also taken up, to $30 from $26.
 
Home Loan Servicing Solutions (NASDAQ:HLSS): Piper Jaffray juices the stock to Overweight from Neutral.
 
InvenSense (NYSE:INVN): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Roth Capital, which also raises its price target to $26 from $18.
 
Kinross Gold (NYSE:KGC): Goldman Sachs gives the commodity company a Neutral-from-Sell upgrade.
 
Lululemon athletica (NASDAQ:LULU): The equity, up 6.16% yesterday, is advancing another 1.17% even as we speak. This, on the back of an increase to Outperform from Underperform at Credit Agricole, which lifts its price objective by $6 to $60.
 
Newpark Resources (NYSE:NR): Shares get upgraded to Overweight at First Analysis Securities.
 
NICE Systems (NASDAQ:NICE): NICE is boosted to Buy from Neutral at UBS. Its price objective, previously $43, also gets increased to $50.
 
PennyMac Financial (NYSE:PFSI): The stock is moved to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.
 
SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY): Raymond James raises its recommendation on Elon Musk's alternative energy outfit to Outperform from Perform.
 
Tallgrass Energy Partners (NYSE:TEP): TEP gets taken to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.
 
Veeco Instruments (NASDAQ:VECO): The tech name is now Buy from Outperform at Credit Agricole.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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