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Big Earnings Ahead – Will Results Ignite Further Gains?

On Friday, bulls remained optimistic that the rally had legs, despite declines in the S&P after 3 days of gains.

Largely, bulls were cheered by the latest employment report which showed the economy added 103,000 jobs, which was more than the 60,000 expected.

While the report was not as strong as some hoped, it still corroborated other data that showed the economy was improving - and not slipping back into recession.

"This is critical, this is the most important data that we have seen this cycle," says Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in a Reuters interview. "This is going to get people's attention."

"This confirms that most of the negativity we have seen in the market is derived from the market itself and not the data," he adds.

In other words, investors have been very focused on headlines out of Europe but the stronger economic data could be a reminder that fundamentals also deserve attention. And, if that's the case, as of next week, something else could capture the attention of the markets – earnings.

Big Earnings Ahead:
Tues: Alcoa
Wed: Pepsi
Thurs: JPMorgan , Google

With Alcoa kicking off earnings season next week -- and with some of the biggest market moving companies including JPMorgan and Google also delivering results, the Street’s focus may change -- at least somewhat.

And of all the big results coming, trader Mike Murphy suggests wathcing Alcoa as a potiential positive catalyst.

That’s largely because materials led the rally in the first half of the year and strength in Alcoa could be taken as a sign that although the global economy is slowing, it’s still growing.

”If Alcoa comes out with a good number the Street may trade off it and think earnings season marks the bottom,” Murphy says. In other words, strong Alcoa results may confirm that stocks have found a bottom around 1100 on the S&P.

Trader Steve Grasso also sees the potential for strength from Alcoa , though he suggests selling any gains.

Trader Jon Najarian suggests also parsing through results relased by JPMorgan on Thursday. “Their fortunes are very much tied to what happens in Europe. People will focus on that because of their exposure to France.” And if they beat - it could also be bullish.

And on top of earnings, trader Mike Murphy thinks there’s another reason to feel optimistic. “There’s a lot of chatter that there could be a bazooka coming out of Europe.” And if that happens, stocks could be off to the races.

How are you positioning? What do you think? We want to know!

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Trader disclosure: On Oct 7, 2011, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders; Grasso owns AA; Grasso owns AKS; Grasso owns ASTM; Grasso owns BA; Grasso owns BAC; Grasso owns D; Grasso owns LIT; Grasso owns MHY; Grasso owns PFE; Grasso owns PRST; Grasso owns S; Grasso owns XLU

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