Stocks: Closing out a rough first half

chart_lookahead_062510.top.gif By Alexandra Twin, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's the last week of the month, the second quarter and the first half of the year -- and there are big questions about the health of the economy and whether stocks can regain momentum.

Weaker economic news, combined with sustained worries about the European debt crisis, have kept stocks volatile and mostly lower following the big rally in 2009 and early 2010. The Dow Jones industrial average is now down 2.7% for the year.

"The market is going to be nervously looking at the economic data because what's been released over the past few weeks has on balance been disappointing," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson in Portland, Ore.

Recent signs of economic weakness include new- and existing-home sales, which showed declines, the first-quarter GDP report, which was revised down, and the May jobs report, which was puffed up by temporary census jobs.

Amid talk of a so-called double dip recession, the June jobs report on Friday is crucial. However, its impact on the market may not be felt until the following week, as traders skip out early ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

But plenty of potentially market-moving economic news is due earlier in the week. Monday brings developments out of the G-20 meeting in Canada and reports about what consumers are earning and spending.

Tuesday brings readings on housing and consumer confidence and additional employment reports are due Wednesday and Thursday.

"We've got the biggest week for economic news in a month, and it's also a big week because it's the end of the quarter and there's always a lot of window dressing," said Peter Tuz, president at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va.

Tuz was referring to the tendency of portfolio managers to buy up some of the quarter's winners in the last week to make their holdings look a little spiffier.

Looking for job growth: On Wednesday, payroll services firm ADP is expected to report that employers in the private sector added 61,000 to their payrolls in June after adding 55,000 in the previous month.

Also Wednesday, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas releases its report on planned job cuts in June.

The government releases the weekly jobless claims report on Thursday, with 458,000 Americans expected to file new claims for unemployment, after 457,000 Americans filed new claims in the previous week.

But the biggest report of the week is due Friday. Employers are expected to have cut 100,000 jobs from their payrolls in June after adding 431,000 jobs in May. However, most of the jobs added in May were temporary census jobs. The unemployment rate is expected to have risen to 9.8% from 9.7%.

"Most people realize the employment report is going to show a lot of the census jobs from a month ago have disappeared with the completion of the census," said Dickson. "But if the payrolls number isn't pretty close to consensus, there could be some disappointment and you'll see stocks drop."

On the docket

Monday: The Commerce Department is expected to report that personal income rose 0.5% in May after rising 0.4% in April Personal spending is expected to have risen 0.1% from a flat reading in April.

Tuesday: The Case-Shiller 20-city home index is expected to have risen 3.4% in April after rising 2.3% in March.

Also Tuesday, the Conference Board releases its consumer confidence index, which is expected to have fallen to 62 in June from 63.3 in May.

Wednesday: In addition to the jobs reports, the Chicago PMI manufacturing report and the government's weekly oil inventories report are due.

Thursday: The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for June is expected to have dropped to 59.0 from 59.7 in May. However, any number over 50 still indicates expansion in the sector.

The government's construction spending report is due after the start of trading. Spending is expected to have fallen 0.9% in May after rising 2.7% in April.

Weekly jobless claims are due in the morning, along with the pending home sales index. Auto and truck sales for June are due through the day.

Friday: In addition to the big jobs report, factory orders are due from the Commerce Department. Orders are expected to have fallen 0.7% in May after rising 1.2% in April. To top of page

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