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Market momentum comes down to retail and crude

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Dec. 4, 2014.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Dec. 4, 2014.

Wall Street will end one year and start the next in the holiday-shortened week ahead, with many looking to early indications of robust holiday sales to carry the market's positive momentum into 2015.

"We're looking for confirmation from retailers that the holiday season went well, which would be an additional data point to confirm we're ending 2014 on a very solid note," said Jim Russell, portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor.

"We think the hero of 2015 will be the consumer," said Russell, who expects positive reads on the labor market and consumer confidence in the days ahead, with lower gasoline prices and healthier employment prospects setting positive trends for Americans and spending.

"These new, lower (gas-price) levels will be a tailwind for the economy and the consumer," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. "We'll hear from various analysts on retail sales and we'll watch energy prices. The path of least resistance is higher, not lower."

One coming economic report that could be less than upbeat is the Institute for Supply Management's take on the nation's manufacturing sector for December, slated for release on Friday.

"The data coming out of foreign economies have been persistently weak; I wonder if our manufacturers exposed to exports might start to feel a little of that headwind as we move into 2015," Russell said.

On Friday, the stock market posted a second week of gains, with the Dow and S&P 500 closing at records.

"Next week is one of the more popular weeks not to be trading stocks, so volume should be low," said Hogan.

Monday

10:30 a.m. Eastern: Dallas Fed Manufacturing survey

Tuesday

7:45 a.m.: ICSC-Goldman Store Sales

8:55 a.m.: Redbook

9 a.m.: S&P Case-Shiller home-price index

10 a.m.: Consumer confidence

Wednesday

7 a.m.: MBA purchase applications

8:30 a.m.: Jobless claims

9:45 a.m.: Chicago PMI

10 a.m.: Pending home-sales index

Thursday

Markets closed for New Year's Day

Friday

10 a.m.: ISM Mfg Index

10: a.m. Construction spending

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the stock market does not close early on New Year's Eve.