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All eyes on GDP and oil

Stocks could struggle again Tuesday to break away from the low oil price drag as traders get fresh reads on economic growth from data and some earnings.

"Oil is the big surprise due to the supply glut, and I think it will continue to weigh on future corporate earnings, but the consumer continues to be a force as an offset to low oil prices," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management.

Traders are watching the consumer spending component of third-quarter gross domestic product out Tuesday, ahead of November personal income and consumption data due Wednesday.


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The final read on third-quarter GDP is due at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists polled by Reuters expect growth of 1.9 percent, down slightly from the second estimate of 2.1 percent but above the advance estimate of 1.5 percent. Real GDP rose increased 3.9 percent in the second quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Market analysts said a disappointing read on GDP would mostly likely affect the market negatively.

The "GDP report will show the U.S. is not in danger of slipping into recession anytime soon. … That helps explain what's really bothering corporate earnings — weak sales even outside of energy," said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody's.

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"The lack of sales growth even outside energy would suggest the pace of hiking would slow, going into 2016," he said.

Pricing in markets indicates expectations of a less aggressive path of tightening, analysts said. Treasury yields have held below highs touched Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve raised rates for the first time in more than nine years. The U.S. dollar index has also stayed in a range, trading slightly lower Monday.

The major U.S. averages rallied into the close Monday to end with gains, despite brent hitting an 11-year low and WTI crude holding near seven-year lows. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 123.07 points at 17,251.62, while the S&P 500 closed up 0.78 percent at 2,021.15. The Nasdaq composite outperformed with a 0.93 percent gain to 4,968.92. Analysts attributed most of the gains to a bounce from oversold conditions and seasonal factors amid the shortened Christmas holiday week.

However, persistently low oil prices remain a weight on stocks as investors seek signs of global demand.

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The "economy will continue to march forward, albeit at a slow pace. The concern is that lower oil prices could mean slower emerging market growth and that impacts corporate profits in ways that are still not factored in," Cote said.

"Global growth will be positive," he said, noting help from "continued low interest rates and continued low Treasury yields that will support the housing market."

November existing home sales data and the FHFA home price index for October are both due Tuesday morning, and will add clarity on the outlook for a recent area of strength in the U.S. economy. The Richmond Fed Survey for December is also due for release.

Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout, said the handful of earnings so far have continued a discouraging trend of missing sales estimates and lowering guidance.

"We're off to a slightly worse start," he said.


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A major consumer brand and Dow component, Nike, is among the few companies reporting results Tuesday. The firm is due to release second-quarter results for fiscal year 2016 after the closing bell.

"I think in the U.S. it's not quite the indicator it once was because the Under Armour brand has become so strong," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. He noted that Nike's earnings are more representative of global growth due to the athletic apparel company's large international exposure, particularly in China.

Still, "growth in Nike is good for everyone," he said.

ConAgra and Paychex are due to post results before the bell, while Micron and CalAmp are scheduled to report after the close.