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Stock Upgrades: Allergan Gets 50th Birthday Boost From Michelle Obama

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

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Two Chucks made big bucks, but the rest of us were regular Joes. Chuck E. Cheese owner CEC Entertainment (NYSE:CEC) surged an NYSE-best 13.05%, hitting a historic high after being bought, and Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW) jumped 2.96% to levels last seen in February 2001, even as the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) ended down in desultory trading action. The month Mr. Schwab last traded at such lofty levels, Britney Spears was up for a Grammy Award with "Oops!…I Did It Again." That ditty could be the funeral dirge for Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), for we have most assuredly been here before. This time, however, the damage looks fatal after the disowned retail dinosaur propped up the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) with a 28.59% drop. On the day American Express (NYSE:AXP) announced earnings and American Hustle charmed Hollywood, AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL) turned back time - if not Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) - to 2000, the year of American Psycho. (A movie about a nut job who works on Wall Street. What kind of crazy idea is that?) The stock dialed up dollars, reliving its millennial madness in riding a broker boost to increase another 11.20%. Also bucking a bad day was LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), whose shares surged some 6.74% on twice its regular volume. This, after the professional networking site said it hired Derek Shen to head its operations in China, where its first job will be to lengthen the business cards of his compatriots. CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX), whose motto is "How Tomorrow Moves," slid 6.81% yesterday, so we may be in for a nightmare today. Or perhaps, in the more optimistic assessment of orphan Annie, "The sun'll come out tomorrow." I should jolly well hope so after SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) jumped 12.12% to a historic high on an analyst upgrade.

In terms of economic events that may move US stock markets ahead of the holiday weekend, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary January consumer sentiment survey is expected to tick up from December 2013's final figure at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK), Comerica (NYSE:CMA), General Electric (NYSE:GE), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), SunTrust Banks (NYSE:STI), and Indian outsourcer Wipro (NYSE:WIT) all release results.

Allergan (NYSE:AGN): Happy 50th birthday to our First Lady, who celebrates her half-century today. In a recent interview, Michelle Obama refuses to rule out Botox, which will be more music to the ears of an already-surging Allergan. The stock, which hit a fresh best of $123.44 on Wednesday, is today taken to Buy from Neutral at SunTrust - far from its first broker boost this year. Its price objective is $150, and the equity is up ahead of this morning's opening bell as a result of the analyst's upbeat action.

American Express (NYSE:AXP): Dow component American Express sees its stock upgraded to Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna. Shares are up as we speak after the charge-card king reported its quarterly earnings.

Forest Laboratories (NYSE:FRX): If you listened to that clairvoyant Forest Labs upgrade at Thanksgiving you would be shaking a major money tree right now. The surging stock is now Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse, whose target price is $85.

ITT Educational (NYSE:ESI): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts ITT to Buy from Neutral.

Seaspan (NYSE:SSW): Citing an improving financial position, Stifel hoists the stock to Hold from Sell.

Western Union (NYSE:WU): Western Union stock gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Compass Point, whose target is $20.

Total (NYSE:TOT): Shares in the French energy firm are showing strength in today's European trading after getting taken to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

See also:

New Stock Coverage: Stamps.com Can't Be Licked

Stock Downgrades: Even Jennifer Lawrence Can't Save Silver Spring Networks
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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