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Thursday's Top Analysts Upgrades and Downgrades: Applied Materials, Brinker, Illumina, Nvidia, Nasdaq, SeaWorld, Target and More

The futures traded down across the board on Thursday, after a see-saw day that saw all the indexes trade in and out of the red Wednesday, until investors reviewed the FOMC minutes in the afternoon which indicated the tapering of the quantitative easing could begin this year. That triggered some big-time selling and all the indexes closed down sharply. In addition, the massive reopening across the country has slowed considerably, and more and more restrictions are starting to be announced, increasing the concerns that growth will slow further. The Las Vegas Raiders NFL team told fans this week that those attending their games in the fall will have to show they are vaccinated.

Despite worries and the potential for a “taper tantrum” like we saw in 2013, the Federal Reserve has vowed to keep interest rates contained. Given the FOMC commentary, it is looking like the tapering of the $120 billion per month purchase of government and mortgage debt could indeed be in the works by the end of the year and purchases could be completed by the end of 2022.

With major Wall Street firms still warning of the potential for impending 5% to 10% correction across the board, which may have seen a beginning on Tuesday, it makes sense for investors to continue building some cash reserves into the market strength while repositioning portfolios for the rest of 2021.

24/7 Wall St. reviews dozens of analyst research reports each day of the week with a goal of finding new ideas for investors and traders alike. Some of these daily analyst calls cover stocks to buy. Other calls cover stocks to sell or avoid. Remember that no single analyst call should ever be used as a basis to buy or sell a stock. Consensus analyst target data is from Refinitiv.

These are the top analyst upgrades, downgrades and initiations seen on Thursday, August 19, 2021.

Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT): Daiwa Securities started coverage on the semiconductor equipment giant with an Outperform rating and a $140 price target. The consensus target for the stock is $160.81. The shares closed trading on Wednesday at $127.37.

Bill.com Holdings Inc. (NYSE: BILL): Jefferies upgraded the stock to Buy from Hold and boosted the target price to $250 from $155. The consensus price objective is just $191.50. The stock was last seen on Wednesday at $204.92, after rising over 4% on the day, and shares were trending higher in Thursday’s premarket.