Will the stock market momentum continue?

May 12, 2013: 3:29 PM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

The stock market momentum keeps building.

Stocks hit fresh record highs last week, marking a third week of gains for all three indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both held firmly above key psychological levels -- 15,000 and 1,600 respectively. The Nasdaq rose 1.7% for the week.

Investors will be looking to power the upward push with fresh data from the housing market, manufacturing and consumer spending.

Related: Fear & Greed Index

The housing boom is raging on, thanks to record low mortgage rates and government support in the form of the Federal Reserve buying $85 billion in mortgage-backed securities and Treasuries each month. Home prices have rebounded and new home sales has picked up.

But investors will be watching closely to make sure the housing market hasn't lost its steam, especially after the April jobs report showed a drop in construction employment. The National Association of Home Builders' market index, housing starts and building permits are due out throughout the week.

How Americans are feeling about the state of the economy will also be in play this week, as retail sales and Michigan consumer sentiment bookend the week on Monday and Friday.

Lately, consumers are feeling fine, if the April jobs report is any indication. Retail and food services experienced some of the strongest job growth in the report, adding 29,000 and 38,000 positions respectively.

Experts say this shows that households are more willing and able to go out and spend, which drives job growth.

Related: Nikkei at 5-year high after best week since 2009

A smattering of reports on the U.S. manufacturing sector, including business inventories, empire manufacturing, industrial production, capacity utilization and a report from the Philadelphia Fed, are on tap.

On the corporate front, J.C. Penney (JCP) will release its first quarter earnings on Thursday. Last week, the company released preliminary results showing that sales decreased about 16% in the quarter.

The company has been struggling to get customers back in stores from policies installed by former CEO Ron Johnson, who was ousted recently. Johnson had tried to implement many changes in the stores -- from overhauling prices to ditching older brands -- to no avail: sales fell and shares of the company tumbled 50% during his tenure.

Earlier this month, J.C. Penney copped to making mistakes and pleaded with customers to come back in an ad aired on TV and its YouTube channel.

The ad says the company listened to what customers want and need. "Come back to J.C. Penney," it urges. "We heard you. Now we'd love to see you."

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