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Coming Week: End the Quarter ... Please

Oil has stocks on a slippery slope heading into the quarter-ending, holiday-shortened week.

Investors are focusing on crude right now as it continues a relentless march higher. The steady drumbeat of bad news from the financial-services and housing sectors hasn't helped, either.

"Markets are hanging on one issue: the price of oil," says Vinny Catalano, chief investment strategist at Blue Marble Research. Crude ended last week solidly above $140, and many people believe oil will have to break lower before stocks can make a good upward move.

Oil and oil-services companies such as Exxon Mobil (XOM), ConocoPhillips (COP) and Halliburton (HAL) will also be focal points as long as the market is watching the energy sector.

"The momentum on this latest leg might tire out between here and $145," says Tom Bentz, director and senior energy analyst at BNP Paribas Commodity Futures. "Everybody's looking for $150 a barrel, so I wonder if we'll start to get a lot of speculation built in for $150 -- and sometimes, when everyone's looking for something, the market doesn't give it."

Still, he adds: "It's an uptrend, and it doesn't look like it's ready to stop yet."

Shares are on pace for a terrible June. Indeed, they ended lower last week, with the Dow tumbling 4.2% to 11346.51, the Nasdaq falling 3.8% to 2315.63 and the S&P 500 dropping 3% to 1278.38.

One bit of relief as stocks limp lower: Monday is the last day of the second quarter.

"I don't think there's a portfolio manager in the country, unless they're long energy and short financials, who doesn't want to start the new quarter," says Tony Dwyer, equity-market strategist at FTN Midwest Research.

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