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Stock Upgrades: Electronic Arts Is Out of the Woods


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

One year to the day after the New York Stock Exchange was barricaded by sandbags, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), which knows all about those, scored a broker boost. Yet its stock still tumbled 2.49%, providing redundant proof that history never repeats exactly. There was, however, history aplenty in the air yesterday, as the S&P 500 Index (INDEXSP:.INX) attained another all-time best. Ironically, its single best performer was Xylem (NYSE:XY), so instrumental to Superstorm Sandy clean-up efforts. It surged 12.44%, and gets upgraded this morning. Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC), clearly taking its cue from the land of the matador, opted for a 46-minute midday siesta. You still can't kill its bull market though; the tech-heavy bourse rose for a fifth straight session to stand at levels not seen since September 2000. Sweet treat Hershey (NYSE:HSY) gained 0.76% to hit a historic high ahead of Halloween. This as Pacific Ethanol (NASDAQ:PEIX) jumped 2.62%. Given that fully 40% of our corn crop goes to make ethanol, it's a wonder the confectionery company has any left over to make its Candy Corn Kisses.

This afternoon, the Federal Open Market Committee concludes its two-day policy meeting. Hump Day of another busy quarterly earnings week is here, with Allstate (NYSE:ALL), Barclays (NYSE:BCS), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Kraft Foods (NASDAQ:KRFT), Metlife (NYSE:MET), Sprint (NYSE:S), Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), and Visa (NYSE:V) all due to release results.

Agree Realty (NYSE:ADC): The property manager is increased to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James. (NASDAQ:BIDU): Brean Capital and Jefferies both boost the Chinese Internet outfit to Buy from Hold, the latter with a relatively aggressive price objective of $222.

BP Plc (NYSE:BP): Its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill fiasco an increasingly distant memory, shares rose 4.99% yesterday in their single best session since January 2011. Today the stock is showing further strength in London on an après-earnings upgrade to Buy from Hold at Société Générale.

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA): The video game titan, which just jettisoned Tiger Woods, is today taken to Strong Buy from Hold at Needham. Its stock, already up 102.60% in the past 12 months, is adding on another 7.75% as we speak.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB): BTIG Research raises its recommendation on the social networking name, which releases its quarterly earnings today, to Buy from Neutral with a $68 price objective. Shares are, accordingly, trading higher this morning.

First Busey Corporation (NASDAQ:BUSE): BUSE is boosted to Outperform from Market Perform at FBR Capital, whose price objective increases to $6.25 from $5.50 on account of the company's impressive loan growth.

LSI Logic (NASDAQ:LSI): Shares are moved to Overweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Masco (NYSE:MAS): More good news for the stock, which jumped 2.63% yesterday. This morning Raymond James juices its rating to Market Perform from Underperform.

MeadWestvaco (NYSE:MWV): The packaging powerhouse, which plunged 9.39% yesterday, is upgraded to Buy from Outperform at Crédit Agricole.

Nike (NYSE:NKE): NKE is now Overweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Thomson Reuters (NYSE:TRI): The financial media giant, fresh from announcing 3,000 layoffs, is lifted to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital. Its target price, previously $35, increases to $40 amid better-than-expected operating results.

Xylem (NYSE:XY): Shares, trading at post spin-off peaks, are now Neutral from Underperform at DA Davidson.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: US Steel Is No Superman and New Stock Coverage: Can Dick's Sporting Goods Score Big?)
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