"It depends on Friday. We get the payroll report, and that could be the key," said Andres Jaime, global FX and rates strategist at Barclays. "What really made people start unwinding these dollar positions was after the GDP number." Second-quarter GDP grew at just 1.2 percent, less than half the pace expected by economists, and that has made just about all the data important, with jobs the key.
Jaime said the July jobs report should determine whether the dollar continues its decline or turns around. "In addition, the ISM nonmanufacturing should give a clearer picture on where the economy is heading," he said. ISM is released at 10 a.m. and services PMI data is issued at 9:45 a.m. Manufacturing ISM was disappointing Monday, following on the heels of Friday's GDP report.
Since that GDP report, traders have become more convinced the Fed will not raise rates in September, and that has helped put a bid in gold. The gold market is also awaiting the employment report, expected to show that 180,000 nonfarm payrolls were created in July.
"If this is a bad number, the longs will be emboldened and it's going to reiterate the fact the Fed's not going to raise rates. I think gold has a chance of testing $1,400," said Kevin Grady, president of Phoenix Futures and Options.
Gold futures for December ended Tuesday's session at $1,372.60 a troy ounce, up 1 percent.
ADP payrolls data is expected at 8:15 a.m. EDT and 170,000 private sector payrolls are expected. "ADP will give you some context, but in the end it's going to come down to how jobs look [Friday]. Jobs should be pivotal," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading.
There are also dozens of earnings Wenesday, including Time Warner, Delphi Automotive, Kate Spade, Clorox, Virtu Financial, IntercontinentalExchange, Noble Energy, HollyFrontier, Humana, Occidental Petroleum, HSBC and Axa, before the bell. After the bell, reports are expected from Tesla Motors, First Solar, Square, Herbalife, Western Union, MetLife, Prudential Financial, Allstate and Continental Resources.
The S&P 500 fell 13 to 2,157 Tuesday, while the Dow was off 90 at 18,313. The Nasdaq slipped 48 to 5,137.
"Biotech got some momentum going, but otherwise it was a sloppy day," said O'Rourke. He said in July, investors had jumped into stocks for fear of missing the Brexit rally, and now they may be assessing fundamentals.
Auto industry sales Tuesday came in an annualized selling pace of 17.8 million, but both Ford and GM showed declines. There are also other signs sales may be peaking since auto makers used the highest amount of incentives since 2010 to lure in buyers.
"To me, the economy is just above stall speed, and the market doesn't recognize that. There have been some high-profile [earnings] beats, but it's not enough to carry through to the index numbers," O'Rourke said.