The bulls were in charge last week, taking advantage of a big drop in volatility to stealthily sprint ahead. Stocks will try to keep the momentum going Monday, despite geopolitical risk and more potentially horrid housing data. Here's what we're watching:
Dow How High?: Major indices posted huge gains last week -- the Dow up 3.0 percent, the S&P 2.7 percent and the Nasdaq 3.7 percent -- erasing a big chunk of the sell-off that began with Egypt and bottomed with the crisis in Japan. If global headline risk stays in check (and that's a very big "if"), the focus will turn to a slew of economic data on the home front, concluding with Friday's jobs report. Also notable: a big number of IPOs on the menu, including private equity firm Apollo Global Management and vitamin retailer GNC Holdings.
Mixed Signals at Fukushima: The weekend was full of sometimes conflicting and always fluid reports on the state of emergency at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. As recovery efforts slowly get under way across the disaster-struck nation, the human and economic toll is coming into clearer focus. Not only are Japanese markets and businesses under pressure but major multinationals are seeing significant supply-chain disruptions of their own, with Ford announcing it will idle a facility in Belgium to conserve parts. The Nikkei opened down slightly in Monday trading.
Wave of Revolution: The recently reopened Egypt stock market started the week on a winning note, surging 5 percent on the open Sunday, after last week's expected sell-off. The dose of good news, however, is in contrast to a region stricken with turmoil. With reports of violent clashes in Syria and the U.S. and NATO forces deeply involved with in the battle in Libya, President Obama faces a backlash at home. He'll speak about the issue Monday night at 7:30pm ET.
Meet the Pay Wall: Little more than a week after the announcement, the New York Times (NYT) website pay wall activates Monday, limiting non-subscribers to only 20 free articles a month. Much skepticism remains, however, with apparent loopholes galore. The Times launched its pay wall in Canada on March 17 and, already, enterprising web savants have designed programs to circumvent the code. Will the hotly anticipated attempt at monetizing the online content of the NYT be DOA?
Double Dip Realty Check: At 10:00am ET Monday, we'll get the latest monthly pending home sales data, which measure contracts signed and forecast the strength of the market come spring selling season. Last week's housing numbers were horrific and analysts are increasingly pointing towards a double dip for the still suffering market.