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Stock Upgrades: Goldman Sachs Gets a Blankfein Check


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

I want you to step back from the guacamole. I want you to put the chicken fingers down.
--Bruce Springsteen, Super Bowl XLIII.

Nooo America, don't do that. Even as the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) endured its worst January since the Boss uttered those words in 2009, Denver's own Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) jumped 12.08% on the week (buck up, Broncos fans) and poultry processor Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) surged 7.56% as each finished Friday atop all-time highs. That, alas, still wasn't enough to stop US stock markets from enduring an awful first month of 2014 as emerging markets dropped a devilish 6.6% in January. As the world said a sad goodbye to Pete Seeger, he of If I Had a Hammer fame, hammers and sickles were a horror show as the Russian ruble fell to a new record low against the euro. Thus did the utterly infallible cover curse strike Vlad the Impaler not once but twice. The bitcoin-pushing Winklevii endured identical double trouble as Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) rose 14.91% to a record, and Tom Perkins' ill-advised pronouncements ensured his firm's emeriti fared equally poorly. And talk about impeccable timing. Ben Bernanke bestrode the corridors of power for the final time on Friday, just as the ruinous results of the Fed's asset bubble start to become clear. It's all yours now, Ms. Yellen.

Today in economics, January's Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index and December 2013 construction spending data are each released at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, expect quarterly announcements out of American Capital Agency (NASDAQ:AGNC), Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC), Hartford Financial (NYSE:HIG), Sysco (NYSE:SYY), and Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM).

Airgas (NYSE:ARG): ARG gets upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at First Analysis.

Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE:COG): Barclays boosts the energy outfit to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Columbia Banking (NASDAQ:COLB): Shares are raised to Outperform from Perform at Raymond James.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS): Goldman Sachs just gave its CEO Lloyd Blankfein a big salary increase, and today the stock gets taken to Buy from Neutral at Guggenheim.

MasterCard (NYSE:MA): Shares, which fell 5.12% on Friday and get cut elsewhere today, are now Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna. Its price objective, previously $70, increases to $91.

NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP): NTAP is now Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray, which also takes its target price up by $14 to $52.

Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC): Wells Fargo raises the railroad to Outperform from Market Perform.

Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC): The defense stock gets a Buy-from-Hold hoist at Drexel Hamilton.

NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA): Susquehanna takes the tech name to Neutral from Negative.

On Assignment (NYSE:ASGN): Shares are boosted to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

O'Reilly Automotive (NASDAQ:ORLY): ISI Group gives the equity an increase to Buy from Neutral.

Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW): The stock gets moved to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

PPL Corp (NYSE:PPL): Jefferies juices its recommendation to Buy from Hold. Its price objective is $34.

PulteGroup (NYSE:PHM): Shares are lifted to Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna.

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM): Piper Jaffray takes the gourmet food powerhouse to Overweight from Neutral with a $61 target.

See also:

New Stock Coverage: American Airlines Still Something Special in the Air

Stock Downgrades: Mattel's Misery Is Beyond Even Barbie's Ken
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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