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Markets are bracing for a not-so-good July jobs report, which should show a continued sluggish recovery in private sector payrolls.
The American consumer is a major theme Thursday, as chain stores report their monthly sales.
Local and state governments, as well as some companies, are trimming salaries in cost-saving measures that are often described as a last-ditch effort to avoid layoffs., reports the New York Times.
A report on the health of the service sector, and ADP's private sector jobs report are of big interest to markets that are already counting down to Friday's July employment report.
Despite relatively strong second-quarter earnings, US banks are still suffering from poor revenue growth and will continue to do so into next year, financial analyst Meredith Whitney told CNBC.
The monthly sales reports will be issued by car makers throughout the day and are expected to show an annualized selling rate of 11.4 million vehicles, up from 11.1 million last month.
Stocks head into the final day of July with the best monthly gain in a year, yet July's hot performance has only sparked debate about what August will bring.
Weekly jobless claims will again be a big event for Thursday's markets, and economists think the number will not really show any improvement.
Durable goods orders for June due Wednesday could have as much directional sway with stocks as the flood of earnings news coming from companies like Boeing, Conoco Phillips and Comcast.
Earnings news Tuesday may again be the catalyst for a stock market that's showing improving technical strength.
Wall Street will be closely watching the results of the European bank stress tests on Friday even as the deluge of earnings continue.
Fresh economic data Thursday could feed the market's phobia about a weaker economy, ahead of another round of testimony from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Apple proved once more its iProducts make for a powerful earnings machine, but that may not add much juice to tech shares Wednesday.
Millions of people stuck on the jobless rolls would receive an extension of unemployment benefits averaging $309 a week under a Senate bill that appears set to break free of a Republican filibuster.
IBM's disappointing second quarter results will compete with a barrage of corporate earnings reports ahead of Tuesday's opening bell.
Earnings releases from J.P. Morgan and Google book end the trading day Thursday and could provide some more juice to the market's earnings rally.
Federal Reserve officials cut their forecasts for growth this year and signaled they stood ready to take new steps to keep the recovery alive if the economy takes a turn for the worst.
The Treasury Department says businesses have added 4.5 million workers under a new program that provides tax breaks for hiring unemployed workers.
Second quarter earnings season is likely to create a positive backdrop for stocks, at least temporarily.
Shopping for any excuse to rally, stock traders found it in chain stores' sales, and those reports may provide a clue to the earnings season.