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Thursday’s Stocks to Watch, Analyst Actions and Trading Ideas

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AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File

Traders are watching Thursday to see if the momentum that started after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's historic first press conference will continue to carry stocks. It was looking uncertain early on, with U.S. stock futures flat at best after world markets traded mixed. Stocks were coming off an impressive day, with the Nasdaq closing at a 10-year high and the Russell 2000 reaching its best level ever.

Elsewhere, the David Sokol story is getting a lot more interesting. Just a month ago, when the news broke, Warren Buffett defended the Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) executive for his trades in Lubrizol (LZ) -- purchases that came before Berkshire announced plans to buy the company. Now, Berkshire and Buffett don't appear quite as convinced Sokol's dealings were A-OK, after all. We're seeing a number of interesting takes on the situation today, but go on over to Reuters Breaking Views to start, and expand from there.

This certainly adds a bit more drama ahead of this weekend's Berkshire annual meeting, which has been on the radar of Aaron Task, Henry Blodget and the rest of our friends at The Daily Ticker. Is this the Woodstock of Capitalism's darkest hour? Stay tuned.

FROM TWITTER:

* Evan Stanley @CornFutures - $SI_F doesn't look like its going to stop till it takes out that $50 level. ( +$3.01 at $49.00 or 6.60%)

* Country Hedging @hedgeit - #corn called mixed after mediocre export sales #soybeans called up 6-8, #wheat called 2-4 lower

* Gary Sandlund @garysandlund - high prices cure high prices, Russia rumors still all over the place that they will return to export markets in wheat.

* TradeFast @tradefast - quarterly EPS surprises (% beating minus % missing) 37% versus 43% in Q4 = slowing pace of beats, but still healthy

* Mike Jackson @bondscoop - Initial claims are suspect. It was a holiday week which causes seas. adj. problems. See if the rise is retraced next week.

* Fari Hamzei @HamzeiAnalytics - SELL Programs detected at NYSE

ON THE BLOGS:

* A Dearth of Bulls - Bespoke Investment Group

* A Look at the Indicators - Capital Observer

* The Fed Doesn't Induce Speculative Behavior? - Pragmatic Capitalism

* Our Energy Policy Looks Like a Bubble - Covestor

IN THE HEADLINES:

* The Coming Commodity Price Nightmare - Fortune

* Decision Time for Stocks - Barrons.com

* Will Silver Go Above $50 … and Stay There? - CNBC

* Derivatives Market Faces New Capital Rules - NYTimes

* Did Bernanke Ignite the Market's Next Leg Higher? - CNBC

* Can the Next ECB Boss Save the Euro? - CNBC

* 3 Companies Gaining Market Share - SmartMoney

* California Eyes Wall Street's Credit Bets - WSJ

* BP's Long Road Back - WSJ

STOCKS TO WATCH:

* Exelon (EXC) has reached a deal to acquire Constellation Energy (CEG) for $7.9 billion in stock.

* Aetna (AET) plans to buy Prodigy Health Group for about $600 million in a deal that will probably be completed later this year.

* Sony's (SNE) online plans appear to have been severely damaged by the PlayStation hacker, perhaps in a more profound way than initially realized, according to The Wall Street Journal. Read more in the WSJ.

* AIG (AIG) may be set to file a lawsuit claiming that it was a victim of fraud by big financial firms, according to the NYT. The insurer, which received billions of dollars in taxpayer funds for its rescue, may be poised to file a series of actions, the article stated.

* Shire (SHPGY), the biopharmaceutical company, reported positive results from a schizophrenia-related study of Vyvanse. The study met its predefined primary end points. Vyvanse is currently approved for ADHD. The company also had upbeat quarterly results.

* Starbucks (SBUX) lifted its annual earnings projection after its second-quarter profits rose some 20% from the same period a year earlier.

* eBay (EBAY) had an optimistic outlook for its sales in following its first-quarter results, in which its earnings rose year-over-year and revenue topped consensus estimates.

UPGRADES & DOWNGRADES:

* Open Text (OTEX): Benchmark downgrades the stock to sell from hold.

* Ericsson (ERIC): Deutsche Bank upgrades the stock to buy from sell. JPMorgan upgrades the shares to neutral from underweight.

* ConocoPhillips (COP): Deutsche Bank downgrades the shares to hold from buy.

* Hess (HES): Credit Suisse upgrades the stock to outperform from neutral.

* eBay (EBAY): Stifel Nicolaus upgrades the shares to buy from hold.

* Akamai (AKAM): Merriman lowers its target price range by $4 to $40-$44.

KEY EARNINGS FOR APRIL 28:

* Microsoft (MSFT)

* Exxon Mobil (XOM)

* Procter & Gamble (PG)

* PepsiCo (PEP)

* Dow Chemical (DOW)

* MedcoHealth (MHS)

* Colgate-Palmolive (CL)

* Sprint Nextel (S)

* Motorola Mobility (MMI)

* Motorola Solutions (MSI)

* AstraZeneca (AZN)

* Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)

* Human Genome Sciences (HGSI)

* Ingram Micro (IM)

* Raytheon (RTN)

Compiled by Elizabeth Trotta and Chris Nichols.

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