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Before the bell: Stocks stable, loonie rebound continues Add to ...

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The Before the Bell report is constantly updated to reflect the latest news developments and market moves in the premarket. Check back later for updates.

A handful of earnings beats in Canada highlight this morning's trading action, as stock futures and overseas markets struggle for fresh direction.

U.S. trade data were released at 830 a.m. (ET), and came in bang on expectations, having little impact on markets. Stock futures right now are just slightly in negative territory.

BCE, WestJet and George Weston all easily beat Street expectations in reporting their latest quarter, getting the day off to a positive start for the TSX. The resource-rich Toronto market may also find a bit of support from a weaker U.S. dollar this morning, which is helping to prop up commodity prices.

The U.S. dollar index - which compares the greenback relative to a basket of key foreign currencies - is at a six-and-a-half-month low of 79.16 this morning. The greenback's weakness is being encouraged by bond yields still flirting with their lowest levels since February, and it's providing a lift to the Canadian currency, trading this morning up nearly half a cent to its strongest level since early April.

There's not a lot of fresh news across the globe this morning, but the situation in Ukraine remains tense and worrisome - especially for European nations that have close ties to the country. About 30 administration buildings, police stations and other installations are being blocked by Russian rebels in eastern regions of the Ukraine, and Monday saw four deaths of Ukraine government forces. U.S President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have set a May 25 presidential election in Ukraine as the trigger for possible economic sanctions against Russia it it doesn't curtail its support for separatists.

Now, here's a closer look at what's going on this morning and what's to come.

MARKETS:

Equities:

Futures: S&P 500 -0.06 per cent; Dow -0.05 per cent; Nasdaq -0.05 per cent; S&P Toronto -0.01 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Closed for holiday

Shanghai composite index +0.03 per cent

Japan's Nikkei Closed for holiday

London’s FTSE 100 -0.15 per cent

Germany’s DAX -0.05 per cent

France's CAC 40 -0.11 per cent

Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Jun) +0.18 per cent at $99.66 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Jun) +0.04 per cent at $1,309.80 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Jly) +0.20 per cent at $3.06 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar at 91.74 (U.S.), up 0.0048

U.S. dollar index down 0.32 at 79.16

Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.62 per cent, up 0.009

ECONOMIC INDICATORS:

Canada's merchandise trade balance for March came in at $80-million, less than the $300-million expected, and below the previous month's revised surplus of $85-million.

The U.S. trade deficit fell to $40.4-billion in March, matching Street expectations, and slightly narrower than February's $42.3-billion.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

BCE reported adjusted earnings of 81 cents vs. Street expectations for 76 cents.

WestJet reported adjusted earnings of 69 cents vs. expectations for 63 cents.

George Weston reported adjusted earnings of 83 cents vs. expectations of 76 cents.

Office Depot shares are up 11 per cent in premarket tradeing after it raised its 2014 operating profit outlook and announced plans to close at least 400 U.S. stores by the end of 2016.

Mosaic reported Q1 EPS of 54 cents, below Street expectations of 59 cents.

Other earnings today include: Agrium; Brookfield Real Estate; Catalyst Paper; Centerra Gold; Churchill; Emera; First Capital Realty; Iamgold; Killam Properties; North American Energy; Russel Metals; Sun Life; Veresen; Activision Blizzard; Electronic Arts; First Solar; FirstEnergy; TripAdvisor; Western Refining; Whole Foods Market.

Merck reported the sale of its consumer care business to Bayer AG for $14.2-billion.

ANALYST ACTIONS:

Raymond James upgraded Alaris Royalty to "outperform" from "market perform" and maintained a $33.50 (Canadian) price target.

RBC Dominion Securities raised its price target on Apple to $645 (U.S.) from $625 and maintained an "outperform" rating.

MKM Partners downgraded Target to "neutral" from "buy" and cut its price target to $63 (U.S.) from $71.

Oppenheimer upgraded Valero Energy to "outperform" from "perform" with a price target of $70 (U.S.).

Wells Fargo upgraded Bill Barrett to "outperform" from "market perform" and raised its valuation range to $33-37 (U.S.) from $26-30.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING LINKS:

Five U.S. utility companies that are now takeover targets.

The Canadian Couch Potato's advice on what young investors need to know.

Investing giant Jeffrey Gundlach has made a call to short homebuilders.

Trading rules for the newly enthusiastic retail trader.

An alternative to selling in May.

The bearish verdict from market cycle analysis.

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