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Market Preview: Who's Afraid of the Fiscal Cliff?

Just in time for Bank of America's (BAC) earnings report, which is due before Wednesday's opening bell. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for a loss of 7 cents a share on revenue of $21.89 billion from B of A in the third quarter.

At this point, it's difficult to get too excited about Bank of America's numbers. It can't get any traction on the top line and is so big that it's almost impossible to see any signs of a turnaround. For every positive in the numbers each quarter, there's typically a negative to be found somewhere else.

The stock is up 70% so far in 2012, a testament to how dismal 2011 truly was more than anything else. The sell side remains negative with 23 of the 33 analysts covering the shares at either hold (20), underperform (2) or sell (1), and the median price target sitting at $9, implying potential downside of nearly 5% from Tuesday's close at $9.46.

Aside from an unlikely blowout performance, the bank could make a splash if Brian Moynihan resigned/got pushed out of the CEO spot, similar to what happened with the abrupt resignation of Vikram Pandit as CEO of Citigroup (C) on Tuesday. That's another long shot but the prospect does get bandied about from time to time.

As for the rest of Wednesday's scheduled news, there's plenty of earnings to consider. The morning roster is stacked with notables such as A.O. Smith (AOS), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Bank of New York (BK), BlackRock (BLK), Check Point Software (CHKP), Comerica (CMA), First Cash Financial Services (FCFS), Halliburton (HAL), Knight Capital Group (KCG), M&T Bank (MTB), PepsiCo (PEP), Piper Jaffray (PJC), Quest Diagnostics (DGX), St. Jude Medical (STJ), Textron (TXT), and U.S. Bancorp (USB).

It's calmer after the close with just Dow component American Express (AXP) and eBay (EBAY) on the docket.

It will also be interesting to see where Apple (AAPL) goes from here as investors will be positioning themselves ahead of the Oct. 23 media event confirmed Tuesday that's expected to mark the launch of the iPad Mini.

The stock's recent weakness has been well-documented, and Jefferies observed Tuesday the trading in the wake of the iPhone 5's launch bore some similarities to previous patterns.

"Sixty days after the launches for both the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, Apple's stock price fell 8% vs. -10% 30 days after the iPhone 5 launch," wrote the firm, which has a buy rating and a $900 price target on Apple. "But 90 days after the launch of the iPhone 4 and 4S, Apple's stock price recovered 17% and 9%, respectively. Also, the press coverage regarding the bumpy transition to the Apple Maps App and the scratches on the case similarly follows the iPhone 4 antenna-gate and the iPhone 4S battery and Siri issues. Despite these concerns, the 4 and 4S were huge successes, and we expect the same for the 5."

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