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Stock Downgrades: Oil's Not Well at BP

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

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Apple (AAPL) yesterday advanced 2.64% amid speculation, contrary to what its CEO has previously said, that a stock split may be in the offing. That about-face is still far preferable to pulling an about-Facebook (FB), which lost 6.22% to hit a new low. This after the stock scored a rare upgrade. With "friends" like that, the company clearly doesn't lack for enemies.

Today in economics, June construction spending and the Institute for Supply Management's July manufacturing index are each released at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, while the Federal Reserve concludes its two-day policy meeting at 2:15 p.m. In earnings activity, Avon (AVP), BMW (BAMXY), Catamaran (CTRX), Harley-Davidson (HOG), MasterCard (MA), Société Générale (SCGLY), and Time Warner (TWX) are all due to report results.

Airlines: Expressing concerns over jet fuel costs amid other concerns, Dahlman Rose downgrades the aviation sector. Delta (DAL) and United Continental (UAL) are both now Hold from Buy, while JetBlue (JBLU) is slashed to Sell from Hold with an objective of $4.50.

Arkansas Best (ABFS): Shares are downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan.

Becton Dickinson (BDX): JPMorgan moves the medical device maker to Underweight from Neutral due to secular headwinds in its end markets.

BP Plc (BP): The oil outfit gets downgraded to Hold from Buy at Jefferies after an earnings miss.

BMC Software (BMC): Shares are now Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse.

Canadian National Railway (CNI): CNI is cut to Hold from Buy at TD Securities.

Discovery Communications (DISCA): Citigroup slashes the stock to Sell from Neutral.

Lloyds Banking Group (LYG): LYG gets lowered to Neutral from Outperform at Macquarie.

McGrath Rentcorp (MGRC): The company is moved to Perform from Outperform at Oppenheimer, sending shares sharply lower before the bell.

Northeast Utilities (NE): NE is now Hold from Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Polypore International (PPO): Robert W. Baird reduces its recommendation to Neutral from Outperform and trims its target by a hefty $18, to $37.

Symetra Financial (SYA): Shares are now Underperform from Neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

(See also: Stock Upgrades: Wal-Mart Still a Bargain and New Stock Coverage: Boeing Stuck in Holding Pattern.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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