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.
After a five-week rally, stocks face one of their toughest challenges yet - a very nasty earnings season.
Stocks should trade quietly Thursday ahead of the three-day holiday weekend. Wednesday's activity was subdued, even after a minor sell off after the Fed downgraded its economic outlook yet again, in the release of its last meeting minutes mid-afternoon.
It's the beginning of a make or break period for the stock market's current run. While first-quarter profits are expected to be terrible - down 36% for the S&P 500 - traders have been hoping the earnings season will bring with it some clarity about the second quarter and beyond.
Steven DeSanctis, in a note Monday, said the surge in the Russell 2000 of more than 30 percent since March 8 is very similar to the 30 percent November to January rally.
Friday's March jobs report can't help but be bad, but the question is whether it will stall the stock market's rally.
The fate of an important accounting rule will have a big impact on markets Thursday and beyond. It's not just any accounting rule. It's the highly controversial mark-to-market rule, criticized for the massive write downs in the banking industry.
Friday may not see another stock market rally, but the expiration of futures and options could bring more volatility.
Crude oil futures fell sharply, signaling traders that the selling is not over.
The Fed may have helped prime the stock market for a Santa rally, if oil remains calm and there are no new flare-ups overseas.
Oil stocks bounced, in their best day in three years.
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.
CNBC's Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
JeeYeon Park is a writer for CNBC.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC
Rick Santelli joined CNBC Business News as an on-air editor in 1999, reporting live from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.
Senior Producer at CNBC's Breaking News Desk.