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Stock Upgrades: KAR Auction Catches a Bid


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

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Ho ho ho? More like ho-hum for the nation's retailers, whose disappointing festive sales helped send stocks lower for a fourth session in five. Investors told OfficeMax (OMX) to go Elf Itself after that stock was shorted to the tune of 2.79%. If, in Leona Helmsley's immortal line, "Only the little people pay taxes," that's more than our intermittent tax paying Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who spent the day sending a letter to Congress, little realizing that they are all on vacation.

Santa's stocking did nothing for the garter belts of Victoria's Secret owner Limited Brands (LTD), which lost 3.23%, and recipients of a lump of Kohl's (KSS) saw that stock drop 1.86% to a new low. Today in economics, November new home sales and December consumer confidence are each out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

Chemtura (CHMT): Longbow lifts the specialty chemicals company to Buy from Neutral. Shares are up 2.2% before the opening bell as a result.

Insurance Stocks: Brown & Brown (BRO) and Hartford Financial (HIG) are both added to the Select List of favored equities at Stifel Nicolaus.

KAR Auction Services (NYSE:KAR): Stephens upgrades the auto dealership to Overweight from Equal Weight amid improved industry fundamentals and an expectation for accelerating vehicle volumes in 2013. Its target price is also taken up, by $4 to $23.

Price Objective Increase: Oppenheimer's overall rating on Domino's Pizza (DPZ) remains unchanged, but its price objective is boosted to $50 from $44. Catalysts include easing sales comparisons and meaningful product innovation.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Connecticut Water Service Lacking Liquid Assets? and Stock Downgrades: Marvell Left With Massive Chip on Its Shoulder.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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