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Stock Upgrades: More Good Things on Tap at Molson Coors

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

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Cyprus, second home to many money-laundering Russians, remains in intensive care, even as Muscovites come up with ever more astonishing ways to beat the traffic. (Hey, with hospital operator HCA Holdings (HCA) surging some 34% in the quarter, they may actually be on to something.)

Elsewhere Greece dropped a devilish 6.6% last week, but the US equity market appears immune to all the economic angst across the Atlantic, with the S&P 500 Index (^GSPC) at last overtaking its pre-financial crisis peak. Spain fell to its lowest level of the year, and suffered the additional ignominy of seeing Steve Wynn - who once put his elbow through Picasso's priceless Le Rêve - pocket $155 million by selling the painting to Steve Cohen, who really ought to be putting all his energy elsewhere at present.

And it was a tough Finnish to the week for pride of Helsinki Nokia (NOK), which nose-dived nearly 19% by the time trading was all over. Still, compared to the truly dirty money of its Scandinavian cousins, the stock remains squeaky clean.

Today in economics, construction spending for February and the Institute for Supply Management's March manufacturing report are each due out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. On the earnings front, expect quarterly announcements from Cal-Maine Foods (CALM), Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (JOSB), Oxford Resource Partners (OXF), and Pep Boys – Manny, Moe & Jack (PBY).

AvalonBay Communities (AVB): The residential Real Estate Investment Trust is now Neutral from Sell at Citigroup.

Chicago Bridge & Iron (CBI): Tudor Pickering takes the stock to Accumulate from Hold.

ChinaEdu Corporation (CEDU): Piper Jaffray juices the Beijing-based online educator to Overweight from Neutral.

Clean Harbors (CLH): Oppenheimer upgrades the waste management outfit to Outperform from Perform and assigns it a price objective of $72. After meeting with company management, the broker believes revenue and synergy opportunities should drive demand.

Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF): The beleaguered stock, down an S&P 500 (^GSPC) worst 51% in the first quarter, is bouncing 2.84% before the bell after being added to the Analyst Focus list at JPMorgan.

eBay Inc. (EBAY): The online auctioneer, up an impressive 4%.13 on Thursday, is currently adding on another 2.64%% after being taken to Buy from Hold at Canaccord. Its PayPal unit is seen as a growth catalyst. Separately JPMorgan, while keeping its overall investment opinion unchanged, is taking its target price up to $64 from $56.

General Mills (GIS): The cereal giant gets downgraded to Equal-Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley. Valuation is an increasing concern with the stock trading atop all time highs of late.

Macerich (MAC): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch raises the residential Real Estate Investment Trust to Buy from Neutral.

Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP): The brewing behemoth, whose other brands include Caffrey's, Carling, and Pilsner, gets a Buy-from-Neutral boost at Goldman Sachs. Shares are up 2.2% in today's pre-market trading as a result.

News Corp. (NWSA): Rupert Murdoch's media empire is moved to Outperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Plains All American (PAA): Deutsche Bank lifts the oil and gas limited partnership to Buy from Hold.

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (POT): The agricultural chemicals company is increased to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

RF Micro Devices (RFMD): The semiconductor stock gets raised to Buy from Hold at Canaccord.

RPC Inc. (RES): SunTrust takes the energy name to Buy from Neutral.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Gobble Up Brasil Foods and Stock Downgrades: The Sky Is Falling on United Continental.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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