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Consumer Data in Focus in Coming Week

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With the government's April jobs report easing some concerns about a sputtering recovery, the market in the coming week will try to gauge how the consumer is holding up.

After weeks of lackluster economic data, Friday's news that the economy added 244,000 jobs in April was a welcome development, triggering a relief rally that followed a string of selloffs earlier in the week.

The market had been expecting gains of 185,000, according to Briefing.com. Although the unemployment rate climbed to 9% from 8.8% in April as previously frustrated job seekers sought to re-enter the workforce, private-sector job growth was the strongest it has been since early 2006.

Jeff Kleintop, chief market economist at LPL Financial, expects a somewhat slow week as earnings season winds down, even though the market will get key consumer data with readings on April retail sales, April consumer prices and May consumer sentiment.

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"I think earnings will be ancient history at this point next week as people start to shift from individual companies' pictures to focus on the macro economy again," he said. "There will also be more of a focus on the consumer. Things might be getting a little bit better with oil prices lower and this strong April job growth number, but incomes are still really soft and we still have a long way to go to get the consumer back to being a meaningful participant of this economy."

Looking ahead to the coming week's economic releases, Jay Suskind, vice president at Duncan-Williams, zeroed in on April producer and consumer prices.

"It'll be very interesting to see how the market reacts to those inflationary-type macro numbers because it feels like the market is at an inflection point. Until today's strong jobs number, we've had some weaker economic numbers while getting these huge hikes in energy and commodity prices, which could mean that we're headed for a stagflation scenario," he said. "The Fed is in a bind because they obviously can't lower rates anymore, but the economy still looks too tepid to raise rates."

"I think we're going to see sideways trading in May where people are just waiting to see how things shake out with the Fed and the economy," Suskind said.

The market will get its first piece of economic data on Tuesday with April import and export prices from the Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. EDT. In March, import prices, excluding oil, climbed 0.6%, and export prices, excluding agriculture, jumped 1.3%.

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