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This is what to watch Tuesday

A dash of earnings reports, wholesale trade and productivity and costs are highlights of Tuesday morning, as traders watch to see if oil could be a positive influence for stocks.

Stocks diverged from oil Monday, as crude rallied hard on news of an OPEC meeting in late September. OPEC confirmed it would meet on the sidelines of an energy conference in Algeria. Speculation circulated that the cartel would discuss production bands, though OPEC is not expected by analysts to do much more than study its options — unless oil plunges again.

West Texas Intermediate crude rose nearly 3 percent Monday to $43.02 per barrel, away from the danger zone of $40, which is viewed as a spot where oil becomes a real weight for stocks. Crude briefly entered a bear market last week, declining 20 percent from its recent high.

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Getty Images
A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

According to analytics firm Kensho, the rapidity of the decline is relatively rare. WTI fell 21 percent from late June to early August. Since 1990, there have been 20 other episodes when WTI crude oil declined by 20 percent or more in a one-month period. A month following these episodes, the S&P 500 has been positive 65 percent of the time and the consumer staples sector trades positive 75 percent of the time.

While the energy sector rose 1 percent Monday, the S&P 500 gave up its early morning gains, and finished slightly lower, down just under 2 points at 2,180. Now traders are watching to see if the S&P will resume its rally, after breaking to a new high Friday.

"I continue to believe the path of least resistance does seem to be higher. We have been getting, and I do think we'll continue to get, the economic evidence to continue the advance," said Mark Luschini, chief market strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. He said it will be important to see if financials and technology can hold leadership. Both sectors were flat Monday, with the S&P technology sector slightly lower, off 0.1 percent, while financials gained 0.1 percent.

The NFIB small business survey is released at 6 a.m. EDT Tuesday, while second-quarter productivity and costs are released at 8:30 a.m. Wholesale inventories are at 10 a.m.

Earnings are expected from Norwegian Cruise Line, Coach, Scripps Networks, Charter Communications, Cinemark, Jacobs Engineering, Red Robin Gourmet, Wayfair, Echostar, NRG and Valeant Pharma before the bell.

Disney, American Renal, Yelp, SolarCity, CyberArk Software, Mylan, Ambac and SunPower report after the market close.