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Stock Upgrades: Tony Hayward, of BP Infamy, Gets His Life Back at Glencore Xstrata


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

"Experts expect modest taper." "Fed likely to start tapering bond-buying program, experts say." "Fed to begin tapering, say experts." And then the inevitable, "Expert views on Fed decision: 'This is a surprise.'" Moral of the story? There are no experts. Actually, maybe a single one does exist on all of Wall Street. A shout-out to Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC), the only bulge-bracket brokerage to accurately bet that Ben Bernanke's bond buying binge wasn't yet at an end. In a fairer world, all other expensively-remunerated economists would now be looking for alternative employment after failing to predict a move that sent the Dow Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) to another record. The famously lazy Maytag repairman can also count himself lucky to still be pulling in a paycheck. Not only that, his stock options surged yesterday after corporate parent Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR) rose 4.74% to an historic high on an analyst upgrade. (At Merrill again, no less. Not a bad day for the firm.) Other stocks reaching all-time peaks included coffee king Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and also, oddly enough, firearms firm Sturm Ruger (NYSE:RGR). Brothers in arms, you may say.

Today in economics, we get a trio of reports at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, in the form of August leading indicators and existing-home sales, and the Philadelphia Fed Survey for September. On the corporate earnings front, ConAgra (NYSE:CAG), Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR), Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD), and Scholastic (NASDAQ:SCHL) are all due to report results.

Crimson Exploration (NASDAQ:CXPO): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Hold at MLV & Co.

Diageo plc (NYSE:DEO): The alcohol maker is moved to Outperform from Perform by Sanford Bernstein.

Glencore Xstrata (OTCMKTS:GLNCY): The commodity company, temporarily headed by wayward Tony Hayward of BP Plc (NYSE:BP) infamy, is up sharply in today's London trading after being taken to Outperform from Neutral by BNP Paribas.

Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN): Stifel hoists the daily deals site to Buy from Hold. The stock's target price is $16 amid increased optimism over its growth opportunities.

OraSure (NASDAQ:OSUR): Raymond James raises its recommendation to Outperform from Market Perform.

Time Warner (NYSE:TWX): TWX is taken to Overweight from Equal-Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Travelers (NYSE:TRV): Saying the stock offers investors attractive relative value, FBR Capital increases its investment assessment on the Dow member to Outperform from Perform. Its price objective, previously $84, is now $94.

(See also: New Stock Coverage: Exciting New Chapter for Facebook and Stock Downgrades: Dr Pepper Not Worth Its Salt.)
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