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Bears Have Full Plate

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Heading into last week, sentiment was wildly bullish after Republicans gained control of the House and the Federal Reserve moved to pump up the U.S. economy.

But stocks ended the week lower on debt fears coming out of the eurozone, rumors China is going to raise interest rates to cool its growing economy, and a weak sales forecast from tech bellwether Cisco (CSCO).

This week bearishness has crept into the TheStreet's latest Bull vs. Bear survey after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 each fell 2.2% last week, and Nasdaq dropped 2.4%.

As of 5 a.m. EST Monday, the poll finds survey-takers who were bearish on stocks with 273 votes, or 45.1%, of the total votes cast while those bullish on stocks tallied 264 votes, or 43.6%. Survey-takers neutral on stocks this week were at 68 votes, or 11.2%.

Poll participants expect the precious metals sector to lead gainers this week, while the commercial banks sector is forecast to lead decliners.

Gold prices tanked on Friday from a combination of technical selling and rumors that China would implement measures to combat rising inflation. Gold for December delivery on Friday settled down $37.80 to $1,365.50 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, gold was up $1.90 to $1,367.40.

Global concerns and the currency trade likely will influence trading this week and overshadow a raft of U.S. economic reports. At last week's G20 meeting, leaders refused to back a U.S. push to make China boost the value of the yuan, keeping alive a dispute that raises fears of a global trade war.

Among economic data scheduled this week are October retail sales Monday and the Consumer Price Index and housing starts Wednesday.

Premarket futures were suggesting U.S. stocks would open lower on Monday.

Asian stocks ended mixed Monday, while European shares at 5 a.m. were falling.

Retailers highlight earnings this week with Wal-Mart (TGT - Get Report), Target (TGT - Get Report) and Sears (SHLD) on tap.

Also expected this week is the initial public offering of General Motors, the No. 1 U.S. automaker that emerged from bankruptcy protection in July 2009 and last week posted third-quarter earnings of $2 billion.

> > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll

The poll closes at 9:15 a.m.
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