Updated from 6:22 a.m. EST
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When isn't it about jobs?
Well, this week is most definitely about jobs as the release of the U.S. government's employment report on Friday could present investors with a sense of where this market is going.
And that's a good thing because participants in TheStreet.com's RealMoney Barometer Poll as of 9:15 a.m. EST Monday are having a hard time making up their minds.Poll-takers who were bullish about the prospects for the week tallied 459 votes, or 44% of the 1,042 votes cast in the poll, while those leaning bearish tallied 407 votes, or 39%. Participants in the poll who were neutral totaled 177 votes, or 17%. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect the unemployment rate in February to have risen to 9.8% from 9.7% in January. Precious metals was viewed as the sector most likely to rise this week, while the banking sector was viewed by poll participants as the sector most likely to post declines this week, followed closely by homebuilders. Earnings this week are expected from retailers Costco (COST) and Staples (SPLS) and technology companies Ciena (CIEN) and Marvell (MRVL). Solar companies such as Solarfun Power (SOLF) also are on the docket. In the U.S., stocks ended last week on the downside. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7%, the S&P 500 dipped 0.4% and the Nasdaq dropped 0.3%. Premarket futures suggest that U.S. stocks will open higher Monday on Wall Street. Meanwhile, in corporate news, Prudential PLC (PUK) confirmed Monday it reached an agreement to buy AIG's (AIG) Asian life-insurance operations for $35.5 billion. Millipore (MIL) has reached an agreement to be acquired by Germany's Merck for $107 a share in cash, or a total of $7.2 billion, including debt. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll The poll closed at 9:15 a.m. On Monday in Asia, stocks in Tokyo rose 0.5% and Hong Kong shares advanced 2.2%.
As of 9:15 a.m. Monday, Britain's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX, and the CAC in Paris were posting gains.
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