Stocks: Hurricane Irene, jobs and Europe dominate

August 28, 2011: 2:38 PM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- With no disruption in trading expected from Hurricane Irene, investors will quickly turn their attention to the state of the labor market, with the key government report due out Friday.

Lingering concerns about the after-effects of Hurricane Irene may keep trading volume light on Monday. There are 4 million people without power and in New York City, commuting will be made more difficult by flooded roadways and rail systems.

But the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and CME (Nymex) all say they plan to open for "business as usual." Insurance stocks could grab some early attention as firms, such as Chubb Corp (CB, Fortune 500)., Allstate Corp. (ALL, Fortune 500) and MetLife (MET, Fortune 500) work to assess Irene's damage.

Beyond the storm's aftermath, investors will be focused on Europe's ongoing debt problems, while bracing for the all important jobs report.

Any worsening of the nation's job woes could be yet another signal of an impending recession, yet investors retain some hope that such signals may still induce Fed chairman Ben Bernanke to take some action.

During his Jackson Hole speech Friday, Bernanke didn't give any hints about another round of economic stimulus, but he did say the central bank would do all it could to help boost the recovery. At the same time, he cautioned that the Fed's powers were limited.

"The story is not yet finished about the impact of Bernanke's speech," said Komal Sri-Kumar, chief global strategist at the investment firm TCW.

Sri-Kumar said the market eventually rallied after Bernanke's speech because investors are holding onto hopes that the Fed will announce more stimulus in the next 45 days. The central bank will hold a two-day policy meeting next month.

"Bernanke really indicated that the central bank has a lot more tools and weapons at its disposal to stimulate the economy," said Jesse Cole, the head of Merlin Institutional Group, Merlin Securities' institutional sales group.

The Dow and the S&P gained more than 4% last week, and the Nasdaq climbed 5.7%.

Europe will also remain a central focus for investors, especially as Greece's finance minister has taken a hard line with European banks over the country's rescue plan.

Evangelos Venizelos has indicated that Greece might only accept a redoing of its original rescue package if 90% of banks who have extended $195 billion in loans are willing to participate in a swap. The swap would change the repayment terms to 30 from 3.

"Once again the European debt crisis could quickly take on a new form," says Sri-Kumar. "It could quickly deteriorate."

Hurricane Irene may cause gas price spike

With so much uncertainty on the agenda, investors can at least make a plea to Mother Nature to help ensure that Deutsche Bank's executives get to ring the opening bell Monday morning.

On the docket

Monday: Investors will get the July numbers on personal income and spending ahead of the market open. Economists expect both figures to rise 0.4% and 0.5% respectively, according to

Pending home sales figures for June are slated to come in after the open and are expected to fall 1.4%, despite rising 1.4% the prior month.

Tuesday: The Case-Shiller 20-city Index will release its June numbers ahead of the opening bell. The index is expected to fall 4.7% for June after dropping 4.51% the previous month.

Retailers Barnes & Noble (BKS, Fortune 500) and Dollar General (DG, Fortune 500) will report quarterly results before the opening bell.

America's most dangerous jobs

Wednesday: Investors will get the ADP private employment report at 8:15 a.m. ET. Economists expect the private sector hired 100,000 fresh workers in August, down from the 114,000 the sector hired in the prior month.

In other economic data, the Commerce Department will release June factory orders data and the Institute for Supply Management's will put out its service sector index at 10 a.m. ET.

Economists are looking for factory orders to fall 1% and the ISM's service sector index to fall to a reading of 53.1. T

Thursday: The Labor Department's closely-watched weekly initial jobless claims data comes out at 8:30 a.m. ET, with economists expecting claims to drop slightly to a reading of 408,000 claims from last week's 417,000 claims.

Economy: 'Slowdown is here to stay'

Wall Street will get the Institute for Supply Management's August manufacturing index, as well as construction spending figures from the Commerce Department.

Economists expect the August ISM index will fall to a reading of 47 from last month's 48.5, while construction spending figures are expected to increase 0.1%, down slightly from last month's 0.2% increase.

Friday: The week culminates with the Labor Department's August jobs report, which will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect unemployment to stay steady at 9.1%. Payrolls are forecast to grow by 75,000 jobs in August below last month's 117,000.

Analyst will also keep an eye out for Campbell Soup (CPB, Fortune 500), which reports quarterly results before the open.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 32,627.97 -234.33 -0.71%
Nasdaq 13,215.24 99.07 0.76%
S&P 500 3,913.10 -2.36 -0.06%
Treasuries 1.73 0.00 0.12%
Data as of 6:29am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET
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