Hewlett-Packard is downgraded to 'sell' at Goldman, and Groupon is initiated with a 'sell' at UBS.
EBay is upgraded to 'overweight,' and homebuilders are initiated at Sterne Agee.
In Japan, the Nikkei Index closed lower, breaking an eight-session winning streak that pushed the index to record breaking highs.
Disappointing data from both countries undermined last week's optimism, as markets also digested the European country's downgrade to BBB+ by Fitch.
Costco and Urban Outfitters will report earnings. Vodafone and Johnson Controls mull divestitures. Retail sales data will be reported.
Morgan Stanley is downgraded to 'neutral,' and State Street is upgraded to 'neutral.'
Stocks are mixed as a slightly worse-than-expected US weekly jobless claims report is balanced by strong export data from China.
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With the universe of this category in its seasonal sweet spot, these picks have tailwinds propelling them into the new year.
The Market Dispatches column has been discontinued. Here's where to find the latest stock and business news on MSN Money, and the latest from market writer Charley Blaine.
MONEY & POLITICS
Breaking up big banks is an untested solution to the too big to fail problem that attempts to isolate and dismantle large, troubled institutions while protecting the rest of the economy.
The IRS is struggling to combat identify thieves who file fraudulent tax returns in the names of older residents who don't need to file.