Patti Domm is CNBC executive news editor, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy. Prior to joining CNBC in 1999 as senior news editor, Domm was the equities editor for the Americas at Reuters. She was also Wall Street editor at Reuters, reporting on mergers, acquisitions and the Street. She also edited three CNBC books on personal investing. Domm serves on the board of the Financial Womens Association of New York.
The quadruple witching expiration of futures and options should give stocks a lift into Friday, while markets tune in to a handful of economic data, including jobless claims and CPI.
Low volume may not be as bearish as it seems. Trading desks have been bemoaning the lack of volume lately, as stocks still drift quietly higher, adding to the market's 60-plus percent move since last March. "There seems like there's no true conviction," said one trader, voicing a widespread concern.
Fed's pledge to maintain low rates may support stocks for now, but analysts say market psychology may eventually be swayed by the growing rhetoric between China and the U.S. on Beijing's currency policy.
The Federal Reserve is unlikely to make any changes to its easy money policy for now, and that could be a positive for stocks.
Stocks may have a hard time finding traction ahead of the Fed's Tuesday meeting, but the trend for the market is clearly higher, strategists say.
Markets will hinge Friday on two key pieces of data tied to the consumer - retail sales for February and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment report.
Financial shares have been on a tear this week, especially the companies that were hit hardest during the financial crisis, leading analysts to believe stocks may be setting up for a spring fling.
One year after hitting bottom, an indecisive stock market drifts higher and could keep moving in that direction.
Stocks are nearly 70 percent higher than when they hit their trough this time last year, and the street is as divided as ever about whether the rally will endure.
February chain stores' sales and weekly jobless claims data, due ahead of the opening bell on Thursday, will likely feel the chill from winter storms.
Check out the companies making headlines after the bell Monday: IBM, Fortinet, Lam Research & more.
Amid the deluge of major earnings reports, traders will also be keeping an eye on the oil market, as U.S. oil futures for May expire Tuesday.
Names on the move ahead of the open.
Stocks could chop around and rack up more losses in the week ahead, with the next wave of corporate earnings reports.
Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.
A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Senior Producer at CNBC's Breaking News Desk.
Dominic Chu is a markets reporter for CNBC.