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Stock Upgrades: Bankrate Inc Is Rated Highly

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

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Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue both tried their best to move markets, but equity advances kept hitting a cul-de-sac on Wall Street. Shares slipped despite a blockbuster $35.1 billion advertising deal and an acquisition-inspired surge in Saks (SKS). The retailer from Manhattan's marquis address is famous for its holiday windows, yet Windows of another sort failed to attract any shoppers at a shunned Microsoft (MSFT), for whom the end of its miserable month of July can't come quickly enough. A more optimistic analyst assessment propelled an impressive advance in Volkswagen (VLKAY), whose cute, cuddly cars are so indelibly associated with Herbie. (And Hitler, but we won't go there.) With latter day Don Drapers dominating the day, there was mixed news for the work of his industry cohorts. Wheaties owner General Mills (GIS) was indeed the "breakfast of champions" as that cereal stock hit the highest level in its history. However Hertz (HTZ), which in hindsight probably wants a do-over of its best known ad campaign, tumbled 2.45% after announcing earnings.

Today in economics, The Conference Board releases its July consumer confidence index at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In Washington, DC, the Federal Open Market Committee starts its two-day policy meeting. And on the earnings front, Aetna (AET), Aflac (AFL), Amgen (AMGN), Banco Santander (SAN), Barclays (BCS), BP Plc (BP), Deutsche Bank (DB), Fiat (FIATY), Goodyear (GT), Merck (MRK), NYSE Euronext (NYX), Pfizer (PFE), Symantec (SYMC), Take Two Interactive (TTWO), and UBS AG (UBS) are all due to report results.

Bankrate Inc (RATE): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the stock to Buy from Neutral.

MarkWest Energy (MWE): The stock is added to the Focus List of favored equities at Credit Suisse, whose price objective also increases to $83 from $73.

National Fuel Gas (NFG): Raymond James raises its recommendation on the energy outfit to Outperform from Market Perform.

Perrigo (PRGO): Shares are now Neutral from Sell at Goldman Sachs after the firm's $8.6 billion acquisition of Elan (ELN). Shares are, accordingly, showing strength ahead of the open.

PulteGroup (PHM): The home builder, downgraded elsewhere this morning, is also upgraded to Buy from Neutral at UBS.

The Weir Group (WEIGF): Investec increases its investment opinion to Buy from Hold.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Frowns All Around for Colgate-Palmolive Company and New Stock Coverage: Tumi Holdings Inc May Have Too Much Baggage.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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