After climbing steadily, Wall Street faces a challenging week, as traders and investors search for fresh clues as to whether the bull market will continue or is due for a pause -- or even a correction.
Major Equity Indexes
Five-day Performance (%)
3-Month Performance (%)
12-Month Performance (%)
SPDR S&P 500 Trust (SPY)
Powershares QQQ Trust (QQQ)
SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA)
The first clue will come from the eurozone, which imposed unprecedented bailout conditions for Cyprus-savers will have to give up to 10% of their deposits to shoulder the burden of the bailout.
Markets, however, will be closely following the Italian parliament, which will determine whether the country will continue to comply with ongoing austerity plans or part ways with the rest of the crowd. Any indications of the latter could re-ignite fears of a 2008-9 style crisis, causing the bulls to head for the hills.
The second clue will come from the FOMC, which meets this week. Wall Street bulls will be looking for re-assuring words from Chairman Ben Bernanke that an exit from the on-going Quantitative Easing is to come later rather than sooner, as the economy has a long way to go before the magic policy target -- 6.6% unemployment -- is reached. Any indication to the contrary could, again, send Wall Street Bulls racing for the hills, especially precious metals traders, who have been counting on an ever-accommodating Fed to keep the bull market going.
The third clue will come from earnings reports from five companies, FedEx (FDX), Lennar (LEN), Oracle (ORCL), Tiffany (TIF) and Darden Restaurants (DRI). Again, any negative surprise here could be taken as an omen for the upcoming earnings season. Any disappointment from Lennar, for instance, could unsettle the rally in homebuilder and financial stocks, while any disappointment from Oracle could undermine the slow recovery in the lagging technology sector.
Talking about the technology sector, Wall Street will also be looking at the performance of Apple's (AAPL) stock. Last week, Apple managed to put up a strong rebound from recent lows, even as its major competitors launched new products-a bullish technical indicator for the stock.
The bottom line: As Wall Street races to new highs, it becomes very sensitive to any news that will either re-ignite fears of sliding back to a 2008-9 style crisis; and to news that will signal an early Fed exit from the Quantitative easing which has provided the liquidity that has fueled the recent market rally.