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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.

U.S. and Canadian stock futures are modestly higher this morning, brushing aside weakness in Asian markets overnight amid renewed worries about bulging credit levels in China.

Stock futures are up around 0.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent, with commodities mixed. Aside from natural gas futures, which are rallying a further 4 per cent as another Arctic blast of weather descends upon much of North America, copper is seeing considerable weakness this morning as risks for the Chinese economy take centre-stage.

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Local media in China reported that certain banks have stopped lending to the property sector and related industries including steel, to reduce risks amid fears asset prices have become inflated. New home price data related overnight showed the market may be correcting on its own, however, with house prices falling in January for the first time in 14 months.

There is little in the way of economic data to drive markets today, and the corporate earnings calendar is on the quiet side as well. As such, traders will be left speculating on the market's next moves without fresh insight on fundamentals. The benchmark S&P 500 index has now recovered all its declines in late January when worries about emerging markets gripped market participants. It's now just 0.7 per cent below its Jan. 15 record close of 1,848.38. Many market observers still contend that a greater market correction may be needed before the next leg up.

BlackBerry shares are on the move higher again this morning. More on that, and much more, below in our morning rundown.

MARKETS:

Equities:

Futures: S&P 500 +0.29 per cent; Dow +0.21 per cent; Nasdaq +0.33; S&P Toronto +0.32 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.79 per cent

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Shanghai composite index -1.74 per cent

Japan's Nikkei -0.19 per cent

London's FTSE 100 -0.18 per cent

Germany's DAX +0.06 per cent

France's CAC 40 +0.27 per cent

Commodities:

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WTI crude oil (Nymex Apr) -0.05 per cent at $102.15 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Apr) +0.64 per cent at $1,332.10 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex May) -1.33 per cent at $3.22 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar at 90.12 (U.S.), vs. 89.82 at Friday's North American close.

U.S. dollar index up 0.002 at 80.26

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Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.74 per cent, up 0.001

ECONOMIC INDICATORS:

No major reports scheduled.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

BlackBerry shares are up about 4 per cent in the premarket amid several news reports this morning showing its business recovery may be taking shape. The Globe and Mail reports the company is bringing back a popular set of command keys to its keyboards and Bloomberg is reporting that Ford Motor will base the next-generation Sync system on BlackBerry's QNX and no longer use Microsoft's Windows. BlackBerry also said it will make its messaging service BBM available to Microsoft's Windows Phone and the upcoming Nokia X platforms.

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Canadian exploration company Augusta Resource has asked its shareholders to reject base metal miner HudBay Minerals's hostile offer to buy all the shares in Augusta it does not own.

Men's Wearhouse has increased its cash offer for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers to $63.50 (U.S.) per share from $57.50.

Earnings include: National Bank of Canada; El Paso Electric Company; Hertz Global Holdings; HSBC; Palo Alto Networks; Allied Nevada Gold.

ANALYST ACTIONS:

Canaccord Genuity upgraded First Quantum Minerals to "buy" from "hold" and raised its price target to $25 (Canadian) from $20.50.

Canaccord Genuity upgraded Capstone Mining to "buy" from "hold" and boosted its price target to $3.60 (Canadian) from $3.30.

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TD Securities downgraded Paramount Resources to "hold" from "buy" but hiked its price target to $50 (Canadian) from $46.

AltaCorp Capital Research upgraded Bonavista Energy to "outperform" from "sector perform" and raised its price target to $19 (Canadian) from $15.

Wells Fargo downgraded Halliburton to "market perform" from "outperform" with a price target of $57 (U.S.).

Goldman Sachs upgraded Baidu to "buy" from "neutral" and raised its price target to $220 (U.S.) from $160.

Needham & Co. raised its price target on Facebook to $80 (U.S.) from $65 and maintained a "buy" rating.

Raymond James upgraded Baker Hughes to "strong buy" from "market perform" with a price target of $80 (U.S.).

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING LINKS:

Mutual funds that are only a couple of years old are more likely to beat the market than those that have been around for a decade or more.

How the polar vortex is setting up a perfect storm for U.S. railroad stocks.

The key to finding safe stocks in the battered emerging markets.

Backwardation is at extreme levels in natural gas futures.

Five stocks U.S. hedge funds are crazy about.

Why U.S. dividend stocks may soon start outperforming the broader market.

Buybacks will remain supportive for U.S. stocks.

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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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