Wall Street faces an economy at a 'crossroads'

chart_ws_index_sp500_2.top.png By Ben Rooney, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks started September with a bang as investors cheered a rare dose of good economic news but investors may need to buckle in for the coming week: It's a holiday-shortened week with little on the docket to set the tone.

Last week, the Dow added 2.9% and moved back into positive territory for the year. The advance was fueled by a surprise rebound in manufacturing activity and a better-than-expected report on the labor market.

The upbeat news eased some worries about a renewed recession, but many investors remain skeptical about the outlook for growth and the sustainability of last week's rally.

"The economy is slowing, and appears to be nearing a crossroads," said Jim Baird, chief investment strategist for Plante Moran Financial Advisors. "It is too soon to determine whether a trip down the path toward a double dip recession is inevitable or if that outcome will be avoided."

Others are more optimistic. "There's a very strong argument to be made that stocks are cheap," said Hugh Johnson, chairman of Johnson Illington Advisors.

That argument, he said, assumes the economy will skirt a double dip recession and that growth will resume later in the year. "At a certain level, you're willing to take the risk," Johnson said, cautioning that a reduction in government stimulus and move towards higher taxes could present problems.

The cloudy outlook for the economy probably won't get much clarity this week with relatively few economic reports on the agenda. And trading could be choppy as many investors ease back in. U.S. markets will be closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday.

"I do expect [this] week's volatility to rise and investors begin to take sides on trading levels and economic growth," said Kevin Giddis, president of fixed-income at Morgan Keegan.

On the docket

Monday: U.S. markets are closed for the Labor Day holiday.

Tuesday: Markets are open but there are no economic reports on the agenda.

Wednesday: The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, a snapshot of economic activity across the nation, is due at 2 p.m. ET. The central bank is also slated to release data on consumer credit.

The government's weekly oil inventory report, which is usually released on Wednesday, comes out in the morning.

Homebuilder Hovnanian (HOV) reports quarterly results after the market closes.

Thursday: The government's weekly report on initial claims for unemployment and the July trade balance come out before the market opens.

Economists expect the Labor Department report to show that the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose to 470,000 in the week ended Aug. 4, down from 472,000 the week before.

The U.S. trade balance is expected to have fallen to $47.2 billion in July from $49.9 billion in June, according to economists surveyed by Briefing.com.

Friday: Government figures on July whole sale inventories are expected before the market opens. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.94%4.13%
15 yr fixed3.04%3.08%
5/1 ARM3.55%3.40%
30 yr refi4.02%4.17%
15 yr refi3.10%3.14%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,645.31 30.50 0.18%
Nasdaq 4,432.35 12.87 0.29%
S&P 500 1,948.23 6.95 0.36%
Treasuries 2.23 0.03 1.18%
Data as of 11:28am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Yahoo! Inc 42.50 2.31 5.76%
Apple Inc 103.50 1.03 1.00%
Bank of America Corp... 16.64 0.04 0.27%
Facebook Inc 79.48 0.79 1.00%
Boston Scientific Co... 12.48 0.45 3.74%
Data as of 11:13am ET


House lawmakers urge the Labor Department and Federal Trade Commission to investigate Jimmy John's. More

House lawmakers urge the Labor Department and Federal Trade Commission to investigate Jimmy John's practice of requiring low-wage workers to sign contracts that bar them from working at competing chains. More

Apple Pay is double charging some Bank of America customers, and getting the charges taken off is a headache. More

Startups focusing on "ag tech," or agricultural technology, are gaining the attention of farmers and investors More

Consistently checking whether you're savings is projected to last you through retirement is one of the best ways to create a smart and responsible retirement income plan and manage it along the way. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.