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Stock Upgrades: Can't Afford Hilton? Check Into iRobot's Roomba

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

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Investors gave equities the thumbs-down despite the handshake seen around the world. (This one? No. That one.) US stock markets dropped for a seventh session in nine, and the pain wasn't confined to this side of the Atlantic. Handshakes? Adam Smith, kilted clansman and father of economics, would say "talk to the (hidden) hand" after seeing the pride of Edinburgh, Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE:RBS), fall 4.34%. Adding insult to injury for his countrymen, 3M Company (NYSE:MMM) - whose iconic tape arose from a demand to "Take this back to your stingy Scotch bosses and tell them to put more adhesive on it" - scored a broker boost. On a day not much worked, you could always rely on guns and butter: Firearms firm Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWHC) surged 3.96% and Smart Balance spread maker Boulder Brands (NASDAQ:BDBD) gained 2.06%. Elsewhere New York's mayor-elect, a self-styled son of the people, decided to move into a mansion. And Time magazine picked as its person of the year a man who recently railed against unfettered capitalism while presiding over a $6.8 billion bank account. One wonders whether the Pontiff allowed himself a wry chuckle after seeing Costco (NASDAQ:COST), which characterizes the Bible as fiction, drop 1.22% upon releasing results.

In terms of economic events that may move US markets today, October business inventories are seen as slipping from September's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Regarding specific stocks, expect earnings announcements out of Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE), Ciena Corporation (NASDAQ:CIEN), Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV), Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ:LULU), Quiksilver (NYSE:ZQK), and Restoration Hardware (NYSE:RH).

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM): The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) member gets boosted to Buy from Neutral at ISI Group.

Hancock Holding (NASDAQ:HBHC): HBHC is hoisted to Buy from Hold with a $41 price objective with Wunderlich, which came away from a recent visit with management increasingly optimistic over the company's prospects.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC): Stock in Intel, a key Dow component, is now Neutral from Reduce at Nomura.

iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT): Hilton (NYSE:HLT) today prepares to go public at $20 per share, but iRobot's Roomba vacuum cleaners may give the accommodation outfit a run for its money this morning. iRobot, whose other products include the da Vinci surgical device, is moved to Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI): Barclays juices JCI to Overweight from Equal Weight.

LyondellBasell (NYSE:LYB): Shares are raised to Top Pick from Outperform at RBC Capital Markets amid higher US ethylene margins. Its price objective, previously $90, increases to $110.

Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU): The tech name is now Buy from Neutral at Nomura.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts Southwest Airlines stock to Buy from Neutral. Its new target price is $23. As a result, shares are currently showing strength ahead of this morning's opening bell.

NewBridge Bancorp (NASDAQ:NBBC): Shares are raised to Outperform from Perform at Raymond James.

Zale Corp. (NYSE:ZLC): Northcoast boosts the diamond store to Buy from Neutral.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Profit Problem Predicted at Oracle and New Stock Coverage: Yelp Now a Four-Letter Word?)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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