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Stock Upgrades: Amazon's Jeff Bezos Laughs All the Way to the Bank

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

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When President Obama toured Petra's fabled Treasury at the end of March, S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) shares went on to finally surpass their pre-Lehman peak within a week. News that our own Treasury won't now run out of money sent the index surging to a fresh high yesterday. Blue chips ominously ended in the red, however, and if Dow Jones (INDEXDJX:.DJI) needs any reminders that this Year of the Snake may yet have another unforeseen twist in the tale, he need only ask Indiana Jones. The ophiophobia-afflicted archaeologist, who sensibly opted to have Mr. (Treasury) Bond accompany him to the stone city, could happily expound on the ruinous fate that awaits once-great powers who opt not to confront serious problems. For now, Uncle Sam choosing to postpone pain until early next year was sufficient to unleash another round of irrational exuberance on Wall Street. Our politicians continue to be the kiss of death when they try to help, mind you. Elected officials "mending fences over coffee" promptly sent Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR) slumping 7.13% and their reopening the National Zoo sent panda bears running amok in Travelzoo (NASDAQ:TZOO), a 12.51% tumbler. Elsewhere, as Oliver Hardy immortally opined of his sidekick Mr. Laurel, "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into, Stanley!" This as Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) slashed Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE:SWK). The tool titan swiftly followed Wednesday's 14.26% fall by shedding an additional 3.10%. Ouch. That cuts like a Stanley knife. Or maybe Mack the Knife. As for the white shoe investment bank itself, out with impressive earnings this morning, it still apparently prefers silver spoons.

A frenetic week for third quarter earnings announcements finishes with General Electric (NYSE:GE), Honeywell (NYSE:HON), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) all releasing results.

Align Technology (NASDAQ:ALGN): Cantor takes the teeth-straightening firm to Buy from Hold.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN): Jeff Bezos may have a seriously sinister laugh but the Amazon CEO is likely saying 'cry me a river' today. This as his stock is boosted to Buy from Neutral at UBS amid a "bullish secular backdrop" for the online retail giant.

Cypress Semiconductor (NASDAQ:CY): Shares are upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at Pacific Crest.

Essex Property (NYSE:ESS): ESS is increased to Buy from Neutral at UBS.

Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU): The coal company gets upgraded to Outperform from Perform by BMO Capital.

PrivateBancorp (NASDAQ:PVTB): Keefe Bruyette boosts the stock, which surged 8.78% yesterday, to Outperform from Market Perform.

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS): The telecom stock is added to the Conviction Buy List at Goldman.

Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA): Shares are now Buy from Neutral at BTIG Research.

Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP): Goldman Sachs gives the railroad stock a Buy-from-Neutral upgrade.

Verizon (NYSE:VZ): The key Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) component, up 3.49% on Thursday after releasing results, is showing further strength before the bell today on a hoist to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

VMware (NYSE:VMW): Shares are moved to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Will Obamacare Put UnitedHealth in Intensive Care? and New Stock Coverage: Iffy End to the Week for Finish Line)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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