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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.

Stock futures are pointing to a sharp rise in North American stocks as they open this morning, finding some inspiration from a rally in European equities.

Futures for the S&P 500 and TSX are both up close to half a percentage point, and the Stoxx 600 broad index of European equities is up 1 per cent - but the main driver of the gains may not inspire a lot of confidence that the rebound is going to stick for long: fresh data showed euro zone inflation dropping more than forecast last month and below zero for the first time since 2009. Eurostat said inflation in the 18 countries using the euro in December was negative 0.2 per cent year-on-year, down from positive 0.3 percent year-on-year in November.

Markets are reacting positively to the deflationary figures as they will put more pressure on the European Central Bank to launch a full-scale bond-buying program in the near future. There were also job numbers out of Europe this morning showing Italy's unemployment levels rising again in November to a new record, while Germany's jobless rate fell to another record low.

Meanwhile, the shocking killing of 11 people at the offices of a satirical newspaper in Paris has ignited more concerns about global unrest and the fragile political landscape in Europe. The newspaper has been firebombed in the past after publishing cartoons joking about Muslim leaders. France has raised an anti-terrorism alert to its highest level, and there are concerns the tragedy could see voters gravitate towards parties with more extremist views across Europe.

Today brings fresh insight on the state of the U.S. economy and whether it can sustain a rate hike by the Fed later this year. The country released strong private-sector employment numbers that point to solid gains in Friday's nonfarm payrolls report for December. The U.S. trade deficit also shrunk more than expected. More details are below in our Economic Indicators section. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve this afternoon will also release minutes from its latest policy meeting.

Crude oil traded on both sides of unchanged this morning, but is trending higher ahead of the opening bell. Overnight, the WTI contract hit a fresh 5 1/2-year low of $46.83 (U.S.) per barrel and Brent slipped briefly below $50. Key for that market today will be the U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report, to be released shortly after equity markets open.

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

MARKETS:

Futures:

S&P 500 +0.74 per cent; Dow +0.72 per cent; Nasdaq +0.64 per cent; S&P/TSX +0.47 per cent

Equities:

Hong Kong's Hang Seng +0.83 per cent

Shanghai composite index +0.67 per cent

Japan's Nikkei +0.01 per cent

London's FTSE 100 +1.20 per cent

Germany's DAX +1.15 per cent

France's CAC 40 +1.33 per cent

Stoxx 600 +1.02 per cent

Commodities:

WTI crude oil (Nymex Feb) +1.11 per cent at $48.46 (U.S.) a barrel

Natural gas (Nymex Mar) +0.38 per cent at $2.94

Gold (Comex Feb) -0.48 per cent at $1,213.50 (U.S.) an ounce

Copper (Comex Mar) -0.33 per cent at $2.76 (U.S.) a pound

Currencies:

Canadian dollar at 84.51 (U.S.), up 0.0004

U.S. dollar index up 0.50 at 92.00

Bonds:

U.S. 10-year Treasury yield 1.95 per cent, down 0.09

ECONOMIC INDICATORS:

U.S. ADP national employment report for December. 241,000 jobs were created, above consensus of 227,000.

U.S. goods and services trade deficit in November came in at $39-billion, below the consensus call of $42-billion.

Canada merchandise trade deficit widened to $644-million, more than the consensus call of $200-million.

(10 a.m. ET) Canada Ivey Purchasing Managers' index for December.

(2 p.m. ET) FOMC releases minutes from its Dec. 16-17 meeting.

STOCKS TO WATCH:

WestJet and Air Canada have released passenger traffic numbers for December.

J.C. Penney shares are up 20 per cent in the premarket after the retailer late Tuesday said its fourth-quarter comparable sales will be at the top end of its forecast range of a 2 per cent to 4 per cent gain.

Monsanto reported Q1 EPS of 50 cents (U.S.) versus the Street estimated 35 cents.

Eli Lilly & Co shares are under pressure after the drug maker released fiscal 2015 EPS guidance of $3.10 to $3.20, below the Street view of $3.36.

Other earnings today include: Exfo, Family Dollar Stores, Greenbrier.

ANALYST ACTIONS:

Raymond James downgraded Sierra Wireless to "underperform" from "market perform" but raised its price target to $37 (U.S.) from $26.

TD Securities downgraded Wajax to "reduce" from "hold" and cut its price target to $24 (Canadian) from $36.

Canaccord Genuity added Cardiome Pharma to its "Focus List" - its best investment ideas. It reiterated a "speculative buy" rating and $14 (U.S.) price target.

Canaccord Genuity named Imax as its mid/large cap stock pick for 2015 and reiterated a "buy" rating and $34.50 (U.S.) price target.

Desjardins Securities upgraded Pattern Energy to "buy" from "hold" based on valuation and maintained a $37.50 (Canadian) price target.

Goldman Sachs downgraded Intrawest Resorts to "neutral" from "buy" with an unchanged price target of $12 (U.S.).

Goldman Sachs upgraded American Express to "buy" from "neutral" with a price target of $102 (U.S.).

THIS MORNING'S TOP INVESTING READS ON THE WEB:

Wall Street expects these oil stocks to soar up to 58 per cent in 2015.

Why oil is dragging down the S&P 500.

The truth about oil in modern society.

Vanguard cues up index-tracking muni bond ETFs.

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Have feedback on our daily Before the Bell report and suggestions on how to make it more useful in your investing day? Please contact Inside the Market Editor Darcy Keith at dakeith@globeandmail.com.