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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.

Markets are in consolidation mode this morning after Wall Street's big relief rally this week, as tensions continue to ease over potential military confrontation in Syria. But Apple shares continue to lose ground after the tech giant revealed its latest iPhone models this week. It's down about 4 per cent in the premarket, after closing down 2.2 per cent on Tuesday.

There have been at least three key downgrades on Apple this morning, from Merrill Lynch, UBS and Credit Suisse, who all lowered their ratings to "neutral." Analysts are concerned the company has priced its new lower-end device too high to spur significant sales in emerging markets. Credit Suisse also criticized Apple for "a lack of innovation." Some analysts, however, have increased their price targets, including at Canaccord Genuity. (See more in our Analyst Actions section below).

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U.S. President Barack Obama's rather odd prime-time televised address to Americans Tuesday night, in which he continued to build a case for small-scale military action in Syria while at the same time saying diplomatic efforts may avoid the need for a showdown, did little to change perceptions that the market selloff last week in reaction to geopolitical risks was overdone.

Mr. Obama's speech is unlikely to have altered views in Congress enough to suggest a yes vote on a U.S.-led military strike. But it may not matter, given the prospect that Syria may surrender its chemical weapons to the international community.

U.S. and Canadian stock futures are nearly unchanged after an uneventful day in Asia. Similarly, European stocks and commodities aren't see much action this morning.

With Syria moving to the background of the market's attention, the focus is turning to next week's meeting of the Federal Reserve. Many still expect the Fed to announce a small-scale tapering of its $85-billion (U.S.) per month in bond purchases, although that's not a unanimous view - suggesting volatility awaits in coming sessions. This Friday could be key in further determining what the Fed will do next week: both retail sales and consumer confidence data will be released.

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

MARKETS:

Equities:

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Futures: S&P 500 -0.01 per cent; Dow +0.07 per cent; Nasdaq -0.17 per cent; S&P Toronto +0.07 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.17 per cent

Shanghai composite index +0.13 per cent

Japan's Nikkei +0.01 per cent

London's FTSE 100 -0.12 per cent

Germany's DAX +0.42 per cent

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France's CAC 40 -0.06 per cent

Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Oct) +0.20 per cent at $107.63 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Dec) -0.02 per cent at $1,364.00 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Dec) +0.49 per cent at $3.28 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

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Canadian dollar at 96.77 (U.S.), up 0.0014 from yesterday's North American close.

U.S. dollar index down 0.05 at 81.76

Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.95 per cent, down 0.02

ECONOMIC INDICATORS TO WATCH:

No major reports scheduled.

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STOCKS TO WATCH:

Apple shares are down about 4 per cent in the premarket after a wave of downgrades and lukewarm analyst reaction to its new lineup of iPhones.

Dollarama reported second-quarter earnings per share of 82 cents, beating Street estimates of 78 cents. Same-store sales rose 6.2 per cent.

Other earnings today include Men's Wearhouse Inc.

ANALYST ACTIONS:

Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch and UBS downgraded Apple to "neutral" ratings. Credit Suisse has a price target of $525 (U.S.). Canaccord Genuity raised its price target on Apple to $550 from $530 and reiterated a "buy" rating. Nomura Equity Research raised its price target to $480 from $420. Lazard raised its price target to $570 from $500. (Read more on what analysts are saying here.)

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Canaccord Genuity added Canadian Real Estate Investment Trust to its "focus list" - its favourite investment ideas.

Canaccord Genuity downgraded Northern Property REIT to "hold" from "buy."

Goldman Sachs upgraded ConAgra to "buy" from "hold" and reiterated a price target of $42 (U.S.).

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

The Dow Jones industrial average is a ridiculous index anyway.

The problem with rising interest rate investing strategies.

What would have happened had the government bailed out Lehman.

Active management is no panacea for down markets.

What you need to know before buying into frontier markets ETFs.

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For instant headlines on breaking economic and corporate news in the premarket, follow Darcy Keith on Twitter at @eyeonequities.

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