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Stock Upgrades: Mystic Meg Predicts Profits at Hewlett-Packard


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

Ben Bernanke, long seen as much more stiff than many of his fun-loving baby boomer contemporaries, yesterday demonstrated a hitherto unknown interest in the music of Johnny Nash. What a pity though, that it was the singer's "There are more questions than answers/ And the more I find out the less I know" that took his fancy. For "I Can See Clearly Now" would have been much more to the market's liking. A clear-as-mud message from the Fed head during his Q&A session in DC sent stocks on a wild ride, eventually ending deeply in the red. At least Apple (AAPL), whose Cook was grilled on the Hill 24 hours before our top central banker, fared better, with that stock bucking a bad tape to end up.

Today in economics, analysts expect April new home sales to improve on the prior month's pace at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. In earnings activity, Advance Auto Parts (AAP), GameStop (GME), Gap Inc. (GPS), Hormel Foods (HRL), Lenovo (OTCMKTS:LNVGY), Ralph Lauren (RL), Ross Stores (ROST), SABMiller (OTCMKTS:SBMRY), (CRM), Signet Jewelers (SIG), Sears (SHLD), and Williams-Sonoma (WSM) are all due to release results.

Atwood Oceanics (ATW): Goldman Sachs gives the energy outfit a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

Demandware (DWRE): The stock is added to Goldman's list of Conviction Buys.

Diamond Offshore (DO): Shares are now Neutral from Sell at Goldman.

FactSet Research (FDS): Piper Jaffray juices its recommendation on the financial information provider to Overweight from Neutral.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ): The Dow (^DJI) member, up 11.26% amid this morning's sea of red ink after CEO Meg Whitman handled a Q&A yesterday considerably better than did Ben Bernanke, gets upgraded to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies. Its Q2 earnings beat Street estimates.

Mack-Cali Realty (CLI): Saying the company is attractive relative to peers, Stifel hikes its investment opinion to Hold from Sell.

Pacific Sunwear of California (PSUN): Shares, surging some 18% as I write before the bell, are now Neutral from Underperform with Wedbush.

Seagate Techology (STX): Deutsche Bank hoists the stock to Buy from Hold, sending it up in an otherwise weak pre-market tape as I write.

Starwood Hotels (HOT): Bank of America-Merrill Lynch lifts the accommodation outfit to Buy from Neutral.

SunTrust Banks (STI): STI gets taken to Buy from Neutral at Guggenheim.

Thomson Reuters (TRI): TRI is taken to Neutral from Underweight at Piper Jaffray.

VeriFone (PAY): Suntrust Robinson Humphrey raises its rating to Buy from Neutral.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: A Farewell to ARM Holdings and New Stock Coverage: Can Johnson & Johnson Be Market's Band-Aid?)
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