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Stock Upgrades: Analyst Falls for First Niagara

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

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Shares suffered a wretched week on news that a nation of 313,914,040 million people created a measly 88,000 jobs in March, or what Bono plays to in his backyard. Indeed to take two U2 titles, equities experienced a severe bout of Vertigo on Friday, falling from the fresh highs of only 24-hours earlier. Clearly the adverse effects of Sunday Bloody Sunday are still being felt in the economy, even half a decade on.

A bird flu epidemic over the skies of Beijing cleared the skies of Air China (PINK:AIRYY), with the nation's main air carrier tumbling 12%. Not far away, news that North Korea severed its telephone hotline with the south had the ironic effect of sending investors scurrying into the safe haven of telecoms, whose 2.33% advance was by far the best of all ten industry groups.

And Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ) nosedived 11%, bringing back uncomfortable memories of the calamity of 1987 for the exchange. Black Monday? Please, that crash was small potatoes compared to the stray squirrel that wrecked havoc on Wall Street that year.

No top-tier but economic data due today but Alcoa (AA) unofficially ushers in what is expected to be a decidedly mediocre first quarter reporting season when it releases results after the close.

First Niagara Financial Group (NASDAQ:FNFG): A dual dose of good news for the regional bank this morning. Keefe Bruyette raises its rating to Outperform from Market Perform even as Evercore's investment opinion increases to Equal Weight from Underweight.

Flextronics International (FLEX): Shares are raised to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital.

FMC Corporation (FMC): Macquarie moves the stock to Outperform from Neutral.

Juniper Networks (JNPR): Argus takes the tech name to Buy from Hold with a $22 price target on account of its increasingly compelling valuation.

Lukoil (PINK:LUKOY): The Russian energy outfit gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Goldman Sachs.

MGIC Investment (MTG): Shares are moved to Neutral from Underperform at Macquarie.

Northrop Grumman (NOC): The aerospace and defense firm is now Neutral from Underweight at JPMorgan.

Novartis (NVS): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the giant Swiss pharmaceuticals firm to Neutral from Underperform.

Radian Group (RDN) RDN is raised to Outperform from Neutral at Macquarie.

Rubicon Technology (RBCN): Sterne Agee increases its investment opinion to Buy from Neutral.

Southern Copper (SCCO): JPMorgan moves the commodity company to Overweight from Neutral.

Wesco International (WCC): Shares are lifted to Buy from Neutral at Longbow.

Whiting Petroleum (WLL): Shares are now Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Belt-Tightening Not Over at Buckle and Stock Downgrades: Band Aid Giant Johnson & Johnson Gets a Nasty Cut.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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