POSTED: Monday, August 6, 2012 - 10:00am
UPDATED: Monday, August 6, 2012 - 10:04am
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. stocks are poised for a choppy week, as investors look to a string of economic reports for any signs of slowing growth that might spur the U.S. Federal Reserve or European Central Bank to take action.
"We may see light volume this week, and that could potentially create some choppiness," said Brian Lazorishak, senior vice president at Chase Investment Counsel.
Last week, both the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank held back on offering new measures to stimulate the economy, dashing investor hopes.
While the Federal Reserve left its economic policies unchanged, it indicated that the U.S. economy is slowing and more action could be in the cards soon.
And one week after ECB president Mario Draghi proclaimed that the central bank would do "whatever it takes" to support the euro currency, he said Europe's governments, including those in Spain and Italy, must first ask the eurozone bailout funds to buy bonds before the ECB will intervene.
U.S. markets rallied on Friday in response to better-than-expected jobs numbers, but investors remained cautious since the unemployment rate still rose to 8.3%.
"The jobs numbers were consistent with slow growth," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. "That rekindles the hope of Fed help, which could ignite a mid-summer rally."
Cardillo said that if this week's economic data further indicates a slowdown, there is a greater likelihood that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke will hint at the possibility of more stimulus during the central bank's annual symposium later this month in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
In order to get a sense of whether more central bank action could come down the pike this summer, investors this week will keep tabs on the consumer credit report, initial jobless claims and the monthly budget report due out from the U.S. Treasury on Friday.
Investors will also get a read on global growth, as China is set to report its Consumer Price Index, the key measure of inflation, on Thursday.
This week also marks the tail end of earnings season, with Chesapeake Energy Corp., News Corp., Disney and J.C. Penney all set to report.
Of the more than 400 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings for the second quarter, 67% have come in above analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters. That's above the long-term average of 62%.
Late in the week, British soccer team Manchester United is expected to go public, cementing the team's standing as the world's most valuable sports franchise.
Manchester United set a price range of between $16 and $20 a share for the IPO, which values the team at $2.6 billion to $3.3 billion. Overall, the IPO would value the team well above the $1.47 billion paid by its owners in a debt-financed takeover battle that concluded in 2005.
Shares are expected to start trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MANU.
Two big restaurant companies are also set to go public this week. CKE Inc., the owner of the Carl's, Jr. and Hardee's brands, is expected to start trading under the symbol CK, while Bloomin' Brands, the owner of Outback Steakhouse, is expected to offer its shares under the ticker BLMN.
U.S. stocks ended last week up slightly higher, with the Dow and S&P 500 both near the highest levels since early May. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.2%, the S&P 500 added 0.4% and the Nasdaq rose 0.3% for the week.