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Stock Upgrades: Amazon Isn't Falling From the Sky Any Time Soon

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

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Deep in December, It's nice to remember, The fire of September.
– The Fantasticks

Unfortunately the stock market's September surge, fueled by that month's stunning decision from the Fed to keep its quantitative easing intact, is becoming increasingly tough to recall three months on. (Lest I stand accused of playing the world's saddest song on the world's smallest violin, let me point out that Violin Memory (NYSE:VMEM) slumped a NYSE-worst 16.66% yesterday in touching a new trough.) The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI), down by triple-digits, dropped for a third straight session as it and the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) each continued their dire start to December. Some stocks did buck the red ink. Hilton (NYSE:HLT) surged 7.50% on its first day of trading, enabling owner Blackstone (NYSE:BX) to pay down debt. Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman may be a 66-year-old who donates copious amounts to local libraries, but his party antics could put Paris Hilton to shame. Tyco International (NYSE:TYC) gained 1.64%. Its recently paroled ex-CEO Dennis Kozlowski similarly knows how to soiree. On company dime, he once organized a birthday bash featuring Michelangelo's statue of David dispensing vodka from his nether regions. For those who prefer da Vinci, iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) rose 1.30% on a broker boost. By contrast, a rating reduction of Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) by Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) saw that stock tumble 2.78%. There is clearly no love lost between the two companies, who have a highly checkered history. Let us hope, however, that this is the end of the affair. So to speak.

There are no quarterly earnings announcements of note, but the Fed head inauspiciously turns 60 on this Friday the 13th. Ahead of next week's critical FOMC policy meeting, the market desperately needs his birthday party punch bowl to remain overflowing for a wee while yet.

Advance Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP): Shares get upgraded to Top Pick from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets. Catalysts include an attractive valuation and potential earnings upside. Its price objective, previously $116, increases to $131.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN): Those much-discussed drones at Amazon.com are minimally several years away, but its stock continues to reach into the stratosphere. Today shares, already up 51.43% in 12 months having hit a historic high this month, get a Strong Buy-from-Buy boost at ISI Group.

AthenaHealth (NASDAQ:ATHN): Leerink Swann (Outperform from Perform) and Raymond James (Strong Buy from Outperform) each express increased optimism on AthenaHealth.

Barclays (NYSE:BCS): The British bank is now Hold from Reduce at Numis.

Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY): ISI gives the retailer an upgrade to Neutral from Cautious.

Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW): Discount broker Charles Schwab, famous for its "Talk to Chuck" ads, may indeed make money talk today. This after its stock is boosted to Perform from Underperform by Keefe Bruyette.

Ciena (NASDAQ:CIEN): RBC Capital Markets moves the technology company to Outperform from Perform.

FedEx (NYSE:FDX): FedEx stock is raised to Strong Buy from Outperform at Raymond James. FedEx, often seen as an economic bellwether, will be especially watched during the busy holiday season.

Financial Stocks: Broadridge Financial (NYSE:BR) and LPL Financial (NASDAQ:LPLA) both get Outperform-from-Perform upgrades at Keefe Bruyette.

Home Depot (NYSE:HD): Raymond James raises its recommendation on the Dow member to Outperform from Market Perform.

Quiksilver (NYSE:ZQK): B. Riley raises its recommendation on the retailer to Buy from Neutral and also takes its target price up by $3.50 to $10. Its earnings announcement convinced the broker that the company's turnaround efforts are on schedule.

Sibanye Gold (NYSE:SBGL): Some relief for beleaguered bullion at long last? Shares are now Neutral from Sell at UBS.

Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX): Citigroup takes STX to Buy from Neutral.

Steel Stocks: ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) and US Steel (NYSE:X) are each moved to Outperform from Market Perform at Cowen, which cites an improving economic backdrop among other favorable factors. As a result of the analyst's upbeat action, both stocks are currently trading higher.

SunCoke Energy (NYSE:SXC): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the stock to Buy from Neutral with an increased objective of to $25.

Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC): The stock gets boosted to Buy from Neutral at Citi.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: FireEye Is on a Tear and Stock Downgrades: There Will Be Blood at Anadarko Petroleum)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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