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Stock Upgrades: High Fives for F5 Networks, Inc.

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

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The Dow (^DJI) surged by triple digits on Thursday after encouraging economic data. (For those keeping score at home, this follows its triple-digit jump on Wednesday after weak economic data, which in turn followed Tuesday's triple-digit advance on strong economic data.) Christopher & Banks (CBK), based in a town called Plymouth, rose 13.87% to top the entire NYSE, so to anyone foolish enough to mess with a pilgrim's progress, take that!

While the world awaited Nike, Inc. (NKE) earnings, Adidas (ADDYY) advanced 3.38% on an analyst upgrade, and Skechers (SKX) jumped 2.82% to a new high. All three, however, would crave the sort of free publicity a long-running filibuster provided for rival Mizuno.

Elsewhere, English Finance Minister George Osborne's surprise at being called "Jeffrey" by President Obama was clearly contagious. Swiftly following suit was Jeffrey Grundlach, who arranged a surprise call, and Fed member Jeffrey Lacker, who expressed surprise at the markets having "got a little bit ahead of us in terms of what they were expecting."

Today in economics, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for May is out at 9:45 a.m. Eastern, followed by June's final University of Michigan consumer confidence figure at 9:55 a.m. In earnings action, AZZ incorporated (AZZ), Emmis Communications (EMMS), Finish Line (FINL), Research In Motion (BBRY), and Shaw Communications (SJR) are all set to release results.

BancorpSouth, Inc. (BXS): Keefe Bruyette moves the equity to Market Perform from Underperform.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY): BBBY gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Diageo plc (DEO): The Guinness maker gets added to Goldman Sachs' list of Conviction Buys.

F5 Networks, Inc. (FFIV): Shares are raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Raymond James.

First Solar, Inc. (FSLR): A second upgrade of the week for the volatile alternative energy outfit, today taken to Buy from Hold at Argus.

Pacific Sunwear of California, Inc. (PSUN): Wedbush raises its rating to Outperform from Neutral.

Sohu.com Inc (SOHU): The Chinese Internet outfit is now Neutral from Underweight at HSBC Securities, which takes its target price to $69 from $37.

Unilever N.V. (ADR) (UN) Goldman gives the consumer products powerhouse a boost by adding the stock to its Conviction Buy list.

Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (VOD): The UK telecom firm is showing strength in today's London trading after being taken to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Zumiez Inc. (ZUMZ): The retailer is raised to Outperform from Neutral with Wedbush.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Answer Is Blowing in the Wind at American Superconductor Corporation and Stock Downgrades: Time to Disown Almost Family Inc.)
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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