Will this bold Alibaba call payoff or flop?

Through the prism of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly on Wall Street, here are three top items for investors on Thursday.

The Ugly (potentially)

Making bold calls can really pay off. But on the flip side, they also can bomb. Only time will tell for one analyst's buy rating on Alibaba after the stock begins trading Friday. Neil Doshi, co-head of technology and media companies at CRT Capital Group, has a $95 a share price target. If the stock opens above that level, he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" he'd need to make adjustments.

The Bad (sort of)

Housing starts plunged 14.4 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual 956,000-unit pace. But the numbers weren't all bad because the July report was revised higher to show a 1.12-million unit rate, the highest since November 2007.

Read MoreAll mixed up! Claims plunge—but so does housing

The Good

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif.

Apple CEO Tim Cook signed an open letter to consumers about the company's new privacy push, saying Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a "backdoor" in any of its products or services.

—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere

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