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Stock Upgrades: Santa, Crediting Botox for Never Aging a Day, Backs Up the Sleigh on Allergan

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

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Tomorrow is all about that guy with the white beard, but yesterday US stocks rose to records thanks to a silver-haired lady. International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde, speaking to the equally gray (if unbelievably boyish) David Gregory on Meet The Press, moved markets higher by saying that global growth is improving. Thus did the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) and S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) each end at fresh bests. Among stocks on the move, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) advanced 3.84% to its highest close in a year after it inked an iPhone agreement with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL). Unfortunately, the locals were utterly oblivious to such an awesome example of free markets, being far too busy erecting a $16 million gold statue in honor of a ruthless Communist dictator who murdered millions. Gold? Really guys? With bullion en route to its worst year since 1981? Y'all still have lots to learn about capitalism. Around countless Italian dinner tables tonight, cute cuddly crustaceans will be killed as 14.28% of the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. If it's any consolation for these clawed creatures, they did not die in vain. Red Lobster owner Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) surged some 6.38% to top the entire S&P 500. (Although they must still be pretty steamed at the irony of the dining chain billing these dwellers of the deep, decidedly deceased by the time they reach your plate, as "Live Lobsters.") And BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), which just lost $4.4 billion, may be a profit without honor in its home country, but not even a rating reduction could prevent it from following up last week's 18.75% increase by adding on another 3.46%.

'Tis the day before Christmas, when US stock markets close three hours early at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. In terms of economic data due this morning, November new-home sales are expected to improve from October's pace at 10:00 a.m. There will be no trading tomorrow, with investors instead at home awaiting gifts from the man with the white beard. (This one. Not that one, for the latter has been quite generous enough this year, and deserves a rare day off.)

Allergan (NYSE:AGN): There is no stopping Allergan, whose stock surged 11.56% last week for its best such showing since 2009. Today the maker of Botox wrinkle treatment and Restasis eye drops is taken to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Eagle Rock Energy (NASDAQ:EROC): Wells lifts the stock to Outperform from Market Perform. Eagle Rock Energy is structured as a limited partnership.

Enbridge Inc. (NYSE:ENB): Goldman Sachs gives Enbridge Inc. stock an increase to Conviction Buy from Buy.

Engility Holdings (NYSE:EGL): Shares are boosted to Buy from Fair Value at CRT Capital, whose price objective is $40. The analyst is impressed with a recent acquisition.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: CliffsNotes Can Help Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Climb Every Mountain and Stock Downgrades: Today Is No Time to Back Up the Truck on Heartland Express)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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