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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

Check out which companies are making headlines before the bell:

Bed Bath & Beyond–William Blair downgraded the household goods retailer to "market perform" from "outperform," saying Bed Bath & Beyond has above-average exposure to e-commerce competition. The firm issued a similar ratings cut for Dick's Sporting Goods, citing the company's "volatile" performance over the past few years.

CF Industries–CF is in merger talks with Norway's Yara International, which characterized the talks as being in an early stage. The company added that there's no guarantee that any transaction would result. Both companies are major fertilizer producers.

Sysco –The food supplier may be the target of a federal antitrust lawsuit, related to its $3.5 billion deal to buy US Foods. The Wall Street Journal reported that regulators are also considering mandatory divestment to allow the deal to go through, because the two companies are the only nationwide food suppliers.

AstraZeneca, Shire–These two stocks are both under pressure, after the Obama administration took steps tocurb so-called "tax inversion" deals. AstraZeneca has been a target of Pfizer while Shire has a deal in place to be bought by AbbVie (ABBV), but the new actions make such deals less valuable.

Facebook–The social network will unveil a new advertising platform, according to the Wall Street Journal, to improve the effectiveness of online ads.

Philips—Philips is planning to split off its lighting business into a separate company, while merging its consumer and health care divisions. The new companies will be called HealthTech and Lighting, and both will continue to use the Philips branding.

Microsoft–After delaying this week's planned launch of the Xbox One in China, Microsoft has announced that the videogame console will debut in China on September 29.

Deutsche Bank–Several current and former executives of the bank have been charged in a case over the handling of a 2002 lawsuit brought by media magnate Leo Kirch. Among them: current co-CEO Juergen Fitschen, and former CEOs Rolf Breuer and Josef Ackermann.

Barclays–The bank was fined a record $62 million by UK regulators for "significant weaknesses" in its record keeping system.

Google–Europe's antitrust chief Joseph Almunia said Google must improve its offer to settle antitrust issues, or face formal charges. He also said that there are more problems with Google than there were with the long-running EU antitrust investigation of Microsoft.

Apple –The company denied a TechCrunch report that it was planning to shut down its recently-acquired Beats Music streaming service.

Allergan, Actavis The latter made a bid for Allergan in August, but was rejected by the Botox maker, according to reports. Separately, CNBC reports Allergan is in advanced talks to buy Salix Pharmaceuticals, even though Salix already has a deal in place to merge with Italy's Cosmo Pharmaceuticals.

Ascena Retail Group –Ascena posted weaker than expected results for its fiscal fourth quarter, and gave a fiscal 2015 outlook that also fell below analyst estimates. The operator of the Lane Bryant, Justice, and Dress Barn brands cited "challenging tween market conditions" for its problems at Justice and inventory concerns at Lane Bryant.


By CNBC's Peter Schacknow

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