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Stock Upgrades: Apple Is No Longer a Lemon

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

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Lucky Sevens? Not so much. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) fell for the first time in seven sessions as the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI), down 77, endured its steepest slide since the seventh of November. This after Thanksgiving weekend retail spending showed its first fall in at least seven years, and a new study showed Christmas will set you back an additional 7.7%. Still, at least fears of a hard landing in China appear overblown, what with it aiming for the moon's first soft landing since 1976. On the way up, it may meet Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) drones on the way down. Despite Jeff Bezos' much ballyhooed announcement on 60 Minutes, its stock still ended lower in tandem with US markets overall. This after the Supreme Court rejected its Internet sales tax appeal. (At least I think it did; good luck accessing the justices' broken hyperlinks.) By contrast with the lawyers' decidedly dodgy website, HealthCare.gov appears to finally be making fitful progress. Indeed it was a better day all around for our beleaguered President, who gave DreamWorks (NASDAQ:DWA) a belated 2.45% boost. Preferring to drop in, old-school style, on brick and mortar bookshops, as opposed to having those drones drop by - one of the 21 tomes he just bought was titled Red Sparrow. Bluebirds fared far less well, with a flock of iffy analyst initiations sending Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) tumbling 1.90%.

There isn't any top-tier economic data to move US markets today, although a deluge awaits later in the week. Regarding specific stocks, Bank of Montreal (NYSE:BMO), Bob Evans Farms (NASDAQ:BOBE), and United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI) are all due to release results.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): More good news for Apple Inc. stock, recently trading atop 2013 highs. Shares are showing further strength ahead of the open on the back of a Buy-from-Neutral boost at UBS. Its price objective on Apple Inc., previously $540, increases to $650 from $540. Among other favorable factors, the bank argues that Apple's recent retail hire of Angela Ahrendts from Burberry (OTCMKTS:BURBY) can "provide an inspirational face."

AK Steel (NYSE:AKS): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the commodity company to Neutral from Underperform.

BAE Systems (OTCMKTS:BAESY): Shares are raised to Perform from Underperform at RBC Capital Markets, which cites share buybacks as a potential catalysts.

Crédit Agricole (OTCMKTS:CRARY): Shares in the French financial firm are up in today's European trading after a Neutral-from-Buy boost at Nomura.

Flir Systems (NASDAQ:FLIR): CRT Capital boosts the company to Buy from Fair Value.

Forest Laboratories (NYSE:FRX): A second upgrade in a seven days for Forest Laboratories, now Buy from Neutral at SunTrust. Yesterday, Forest Laboratories topped the entire S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) with a 9.76% surge.

HollyFrontier (NYSE:HFC): Bank of America-Merrill hoists HFC to Buy from Neutral.

Oceaneering International (NYSE:OII): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Hold at Société Générale.

Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN): Morgan Stanley moves the British-based medical equipment outfit to Overweight from Equal Weight, sending it up over 2% in today's London trading.

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA): There is no keeping cult electric car company Tesla Motors out of the news. Today it is named a Top Pick at Morgan Stanley. As a result, Tesla Motors is currently snapping back nicely from yesterday's 3.77% nosedive.

William Hill (OTCMKTS:WIMHY): The British bookmaker is showing strength in London today after getting increased to Buy from Neutral at UBS.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Disney Cools Off After Red-Hot 'Frozen' and New Stock Coverage: On 3 December, Buy 3D Systems)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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