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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 holding close to unchanged this morning as traders await the release of several U.S. economic reports and continue the debate on whether record stock values leave the market vulnerable to a painful correction.

In Canada, the focus is on Canadian bank earnings as well as the unfolding news that will bring big changes to Tim Hortons. The company announced this morning it is indeed merging with Burger King Worldwide in a deal that will be partly financed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Tim Hortons shareholders will receive roughly $89.32 a share as part of the deal. (See the full press release here.)

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Shares in Tim Hortons, which soared almost 19 per cent on Monday, are up another 11 per cent in premarket trading this morning. Burger King shares are up about 0.5 per cent.

Canadian banking stocks, meanwhile, could post further gains today after Bank of Montreal beat headline EPS projections by the Street, and Bank of Nova Scotia matched them while announcing a boost to its dividend.

On Monday, the S&P 500 closed just shy of 2,000 after briefly surpassing that level for the first time, receiving some encouragement from news that the European Central Bank is pondering even more stimulus measures to boost the sagging euro zone economy. The TSX also hit a record.

While the seemingly unstoppable bull market, now well into its fifth year, continues to spur thoughts that a correction looms, valuations suggest we're not in bubble territory yet. As Bloomberg News points out this morning, the S&P 500 is currently trading at close to 19 times annual earnings - well below the nearly 30 times earnings during the peak of the dot-com bubble in 2000.

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

MARKETS:

Equities:

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Futures: S&P 500 +0.13 per cent; Dow +0.13 per cent; Nasdaq +0.16 per cent; S&P/TSX -0.06 per cent

Hong Kong's Hang Seng -0.37 per cent

Shanghai composite index -1.00 per cent

Japan's Nikkei -0.59 per cent

London's FTSE 100 +0.29 per cent

Germany's DAX -0.18 per cent

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France's CAC 40 +0.20 per cent

Stoxx 600 +0.16 per cent

Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Oct) +0.28 per cent at $93.61 (U.S.) a barrel

Gold (Comex Dec) +0.74 per cent at $1,288.30 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Dec) -0.51 per cent at $3.22 (U.S.) a pound

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Currencies:

Canadian dollar at 91.22 (U.S.), up 0.0019

U.S. dollar index down 0.06 at 82.49

Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 2.38 per cent, down 0.01

ECONOMIC INDICATORS:

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U.S. durable goods orders for July rose 22.6 per cent, well ahead of expectations of 8 per cent, but much of that gain came from Boeing contracts. Excluding transportation, durable goods orders actually fell 0.8 per cent, worse than expectations for a gain of 0.4 per cent.

U.S. released the S&P Case-Shiller home price index for June. The 20-city index rose 8.1 per cent from a year ago, a little less than the 8.4 per cent that was expected.

(10 a.m. ET) U.S. releases consumer confidence numbers from the Conference Board. The Street expects a reading of 89.5, down from the previous 90.9.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

Tim Hortons announced it is merging with Burger King Worldwide in a deal that will be partly financed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Tim Hortons shareholders will receive about $89.32 (Canadian) a share as part of the deal: $65.50 (Canadian) in cash and 0.8025 common shares of the new company for each Tim Hortons share. Based on Burger King's closing price as of Aug. 22, the deal is valued at about a 39 per cent premium over the weighted average price of the stock over the 30 days leading up to Aug. 22. Private equity firm 3G Capital will own 51 per cent of the new company. Tim Hortons shares are up 11 per cent in the premarket. Burger King shares are up about 0.5 per cent.

Bank of Montreal reported Q3 adjusted EPS of $1.73 vs. the Street estimated $1.66.

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Bank of Nova Scotia reported adjusted earnings of $1.41 per share, in line with analyst estimates, and announced a 2-cent boost to its quarterly dividend to 66 cents a share.

Best Buy reported adjusted Q2 of 42 cents (U.S.) versus the Street expected 31 cents. Shares are up 0.3 per cent in the premarket.

ANALYST ACTIONS:

Tim Hortons was downgraded to the equivalent of hold from buy at both Scotiabank and Desjardins Securities. The downgrades came before the official announcement of the merger with Burger King Worldwide this morning.

FirstEnergy Capital upgraded Western Energy Services to "outperform" from "market perform" with a price target of $12.50 (Canadian) a share.

FirstEnergy Capital downgraded Ensign Energy Services to "underperform" from "market perform" with a price target of $17.50 (Canadian).

FirstEnergy Capital downgraded Secure Energy Services to "outperform" from "top pick" with a price target of $29.50 (Canadian).

National Bank Financial upgraded Liquor Stores N.A. to "sector perform" from "underperform" with a price target of $12 (Canadian).

Barclays raised its price target on Whitecap Resources to $20 (Canadian) from $18 and maintained an "overweight" rating.

Raymond James raised its price target on First Quantum Minerals to $28 (Canadian) from $26 and maintained an "outperform" rating.

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

Every day, the bull market looks more and more like the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. Except when it comes to valuations.

How to spot the garbage in reading investing news.

What the original Mad Man David Ogilvy can teach investors.

How M&A rumours take off.

Target-date ETFs are doing poorly in the U.S.

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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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