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Stock Upgrades: Can Merck Lead the Dow to Another Terrific Tuesday?

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

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Wall Street finally faced the music last week, with the S&P 500 (^GSPC) falling for the first time since mid-April. (On the bright side, Steinway Musical Instruments (LVS) bucked a bad tape to surge 11.85%, which will presumably please pianist par excellence Liberace and Gordon Gekko's alter ego who played him.) Cover curses remained alive and well at The Economist, as Japan's main market fell 4.76% for its worst week of the year just as the magazine ill advisedly opted to tempt fate.

Mrs. Watanabe was told to "take the plunge" with Mr. Market by a similarly respected publication in April but maybe the true meaning of "plunge" was, much like a 2003 movie made in Tokyo, Lost in Translation. Spain's Bankia (OTCMKTS:BNKXF) imploded an astonishing 85%, but Europe opted to concern itself with weightier matters like olive oil.

On this side of the ocean, Apple Inc. (AAPL) - famously founded in a car garage - rose even as it was reviled by Carl Levin, who really should know better, representing as he does America's automotive epicenter of Michigan.

Today in economics, analysts expect an uptick in the Conference Board's May consumer sentiment survey at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, GuideWire Software (GWRE), Lukoil (OTCMKTS:LUKOY), Tiffany (TIF), United Natural Foods (UNFI), and Wet Seal (WTSL) are all due to report results.

Aixtron (AIXG): Shares of the semiconductor stock are surging some 7.14% ahead of the open on an upgrade to Buy from Neutral at Natixis Bleichroeder.

Anadarko Petroleum (APC): Deutsche Bank adds the oil outfit to its list of Short-Term Buys.

Bayer (OTCMKTS: BAYRY) The Aspirin maker is taken to Buy from Hold at Jefferies.

Commerzbank (OTCMKTS:CRZBY): RBC Capital raises the German financial giant to Sector Perform from Underperform.

CyrusOne (CONE): Morgan Stanley moves the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Drug Stocks: Jefferies juices Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) to Hold from Underperform and hoists Dow (^DJI) member Merck (NYSE:MRK) to Buy from Hold. Merck, up 1.29% in today's pre-market trading, is regarded as one of the preeminent restructuring plays in its industry, with potential animal and consumer health spin offs seen as share price catalysts.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK): The pharmaceuticals firm is trading 2.32% higher in London today on the back of Buy-from-Hold boost at Deutsche Bank. Catalysts include a strong drug pipeline and benign regulatory backdrop.

Johnson Controls (JCI): JCI gets an Outperform-from-Market Perform boost by Wells Fargo.

Kansas City Southern (KSU): BMO Capital raises the railroad to Market Perform from Underperform.

Logitech International (LOGI): Credit Suisse lifts the world's largest maker of computer mice to Neutral from Underperform.

MAKO Surgical (MAKO): MAKO gets moved to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Mattson (MTSN): The small cap name is now Buy from Hold at Needham, whose price objective is $3. The broker believes that memory orders, particularly from Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF), will show ongoing improvement.

Novo Nordisk (NVO): NVO gets increased to Hold from Sell at Deutsche Bank.

Public Service (PEG): Shares are now Neutral from Underperform at Credit Suisse.

Sempra Energy (SRE): The gas utility gets upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight by Barclays.

Texas Instruments (TXN): Drexel Hamilton hoists the semiconductor outfit to Buy from Hold.

Trulia (TRLA): Saying that the company is "closing the valuation gap" with competitor Zillow (Z), Goldman Sachs takes TRLA to Buy from Neutral.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: W.R. Grace Is Amazing and Stock Downgrades: Analyst Is Not a Belieber of Align Technology.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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