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Stock Upgrades: Gray Television Should See Fifty Shades of Green

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

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Maria, where were you? The "money honey" was last seen crying her eyes out on the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, a day the Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) closed at a record 16,064.77. When she suddenly resurfaced yesterday, equities advanced in her honor, but -- even so -- blue chips now stand at a scant 15,445.24, so Mr. Market sure missed her Midas touch. (Alas, another Maria -- Ms. Nunez from West Side Story -- endured a terrible Tuesday as the Sharks start to circle ominously around Puerto Rico.) US stock markets advanced after domestic factory orders fell less than expected in December 2013, even as China reported lower than expected forecast growth in its identical metric last month. Good; any such slowdown out of Beijing is a literal breath of fresh air in America. A faded retail icon that recently advised us, "The '80s called. They want their store back." got its wish as JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) plunged 10.56% to its lowest level since December 1980. What's that you say? The ad was in fact about RadioShack (NYSE:RSH)? Fair enough; it fell 4.84%. And Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) lost after choosing Satya Nadella as its CEO. Chalk another one up to the "experts" -- British bookmakers had Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) CEO at unbackable odds, with Nadella not even in the top three.

Today in economics, the Institute for Supply Management releases its January services index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, with economists expecting an improvement on the prior month's pace. In earnings action, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR), Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO), Merck (NYSE:MRK), Pandora (NASDAQ:P), Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL), Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) are all due to release results

American Capital Agency (NASDAQ:AGNC): JPMorgan moves the equity to Overweight from Neutral, sending it up ahead of this morning's opening bell.

ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT): The steelmaker is up nicely in today's European trading after getting hoisted to Overweight from Neutral at HSBC Securities.

Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM): Shares are boosted to Buy from Neutral at Citigroup.

Becton Dickinson (NYSE:BDX): Raymond James raises its recommendation to Market Perform from Underperform.

BlackRock (NYSE:BLK): The money manager is now Positive from Neutral at Susquehanna.

Centene (NYSE:CNC): Citi takes the health-care name to Neutral from Sell.

Church & Dwight (NYSE:CHD): This consumer products powerhouse, whose brands include Trojan condoms and Arm & Hammer baking soda, gets moved to Outperform from Market Perform by BMO Capital Markets. Its price objective, previously $65, increases to $71.

Gray Television (NYSE:GTN): The stock, having surged a highly impressive 150.83% in the past 12 months, may see more green screens today after getting upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR): Citigroup lifts LAMR to Buy from Neutral.

Northfield Bancorp (NASDAQ:NFBK): Shares get an Outperform-from-Perform boost by Keefe Bruyette.

Steel Dynamics (NASDAQ:STLD): Jefferies juices its investment assessment to Buy from Hold.

Swatch (OTCMKTS:SWGAY): Shares are hoisted to Buy from Hold at Societe Generale.

Vale S.A. (NYSE:VALE): Morgan Stanley moves the commodity company to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Waddell & Reed (NYSE:WDR): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at Citi.

Zillow (NASDAQ:Z): The online real estate outfit is raised to Buy from Fair Value at CRT Capital.

Also see:

New Stock Coverage: Fossil Starts to Show Its Age

Stock Downgrades: Stern Warning for Sirius XM
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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