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What to watch after stock market trifecta

The consumer powered what little growth there was in the first half of the year, so Friday's July retail sales is an important look at the economy's engine at the start of the second half.

Retail sales are expected to grow by 0.5 percent, or 0.1 percent if automobiles are excluded. There is also PPI producer price inflation at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Consumer sentiment and business inventories are both at 10 a.m. Earnings are expected from J.C. Penney.


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"The consumer in the second quarter was just off the charts. You can't expect it to be as robust in the second half of the year," said John Canally, economist and market strategist at LPL Financial. Canally said consumer spending grew at about 3 percent in the first half while GDP growth averaged 1 percent. He expects consumer spending to slow down to 2.5 percent in the second half.

"The consumer is in good shape," he said, adding that housing is doing well, and household net worth is higher.

Besides data, traders will be watching the behavior in markets, after a more than 4 percent surge in oil prices helped drive stocks to record levels. The three major indexes, Dow, Nasdaq and the S&P 500 each closed at new highs, the first time all three set records in one day since 1999, according to Bespoke.

"That sounds like what we do in a bull market," said Ari Wald, technical analyst with Oppenheimer, of the market trifecta. "What that speaks to is that it's been a broad-based rally. Usually the rallies that are led by many stocks are ... the rallies that continue. We've had these indexes make new highs. We've had the advanced decline line make new highs."

Oil too will stay in the spotlight, after Saudi Arabia indicated that OPEC and other producers could consider action if prices are weak. That spurred a massive short covering rally in heavily shorted crude futures. In fact, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih even commented on the record short positioning, saying it "has caused the oil price to undershoot."

West Texas Intermediate futures ended up 4.3 percent to $43.49 per barrel.

"There's actually a very big long position as well. There's just a very big offsetting short position. There's been both quite an increase in longs and an increase in shorts," said Mike Dragosits, senior commodities strategist at TD Securities. Dragosits said Al-Falih's comments are similar to past comments.

"They're ready to act if needed. It's very close to central bank speak. They're all going to act if needed. I think there's going to be a lot more commentary like this, trying to support oil at higher levels," he said.

The S&P 500 rose 10 to 2,185, the Dow rose 117 to 18,613 and the Nasdaq ended up 23 at 5,228 Thursday. The Russell 2000 finished at 1,291, up 5, but it is below its high.

"Three of the four [indexes] have confirmed. The Russell is the outlier. Things have gotten better, but I still expect volatility," said Paul LaRosa, technical analyst with Maxim Group. "I wouldn't be surprised if there's a modest pullback. This market to me is not the type of market that's saying put everything on red or black. This is still a stock picker's market. Money is rotating to different sectors."