Updated from 1/29/2011 with latest news from Egypt.
NEW YORK (
) -- Should investors be bracing themselves for a further correction in the coming week?
Between the escalating crisis in Egypt, the ongoing earnings season and a crucial nonfarm payrolls report, there will certainly be plenty of market-moving headlines to influence equities trading.
After rising to key psychological levels on an intra-day basis during the week on the back of strong earnings,
stocks plunged on Friday as investors worried that
tensions in Egypt would spread to other countries in the Middle East, including the major oil-producing nation of Saudi Arabia. Anti-government protests have already spread to Yemen, Algeria and Jordan.
appointed Omar Suleiman, the head of the country's intelligence services, as vice president, according to media reports. As riots and protests continued into Sunday, Egypt's information minister ordered the suspension of operations of
, revoking its licenses and withdrawing accreditation for its staff.
A protester is seen in the streets amid civil unrest in Suez, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators poured into the nation's streets.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
snapped its eight-week winning streak, losing 0.4% over the week to close at 11,824. The
also failed to hold above 1300, slipping 0.5% over the week to 1276.
Geopolitical tensions instead caused investors to bid up the price of oil by more than 4% to $89.90 a barrel on Friday. Traditional safe havens -- gold, the dollar and treasuries -- also snapped back into favor.
Market experts are debating whether Friday's fall was a mere technical correction after a long, uninterrupted rally or if more weakness is in store.
Lawrence Creatura of Federated Investors believes stocks have been grinding higher on the back of a healthy earnings backdrop, but global concerns could derail the upward trend.
"Share prices have been moving up because we have earned it. The tone of the results reported so far has been
largely positive and any pullback will have to overcome that positive tone," he said, adding, "In terms of catalysts for correction, though, there are a lot of candidates outside our borders including Middle East tensions, Chinese inflation and Europe uncertainty."
Peter Cardillo of Avalon Partners believes the Egypt crisis could be a "curveball" for the markets if it spreads to Saudi Arabia.
"The unrest we are seeing in Egypt now, who knows who could be next?," said Cardillo. "We are dealing with countries in the Middle East. The oil-producing countries are at risk. If it should spread to Saudi
Arabia or Kuwait, we could see some drastic moves, upward pressure on oil markets on the back of geopolitical tension."
In the United States, investors will have a flood of economic data to digest in addition to a stream of earnings reports.
On Monday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis will release personal income and spending data. Income is expected to rise 0.5%, while spending is likely to have grown by 0.6% in December.
On Tuesday, investors will have December construction, January ISM manufacturing index and February auto sales numbers to digest. The ISM Manufacturing Index is expected to climb to 58.2 from 57 in December, according to consensus estimates from
Wednesday will provide the first glimpse into the employment situation in January with the ADP releasing its National Employment Report. The report has shown strong trends in private sector job growth over the past few months, only to be refuted by the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report each time.
Earlier this month, the ADP said that companies added nearly 300,000 jobs in December, while the Labor Department said
the economy added only 103,000 jobs.. The divergence could lead markets to read the ADP report with more caution when it is released on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the weekly jobless claims will be in focus. The data has been erratic over the last few weeks as bad weather has disrupted filing of claims and administrative processing at the Labor Department.
That might well be an issue with the nonfarm payrolls report on Friday as well. "We are still in the unstable portion of the calendar," said Creatura on the jobs report. "It would not be wise to read too much into a single jobs report. After the report, we are likely to feel like we need more information."
Economists expect the economy to have added 150,000 jobs in January, according to
. Estimates will likely be revised through the week following the ADP data.
Earnings will continue to be in focus with several key oil and healthcare companies set to report in the week ahead.
report on Monday, while
will announce is results on Tuesday morning. Investors will be looking for more information on BP's liabilities related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
are other major companies set to report on Tuesday.
are reports of note Wednesday.
Thursday will be earnings heavy with the reports of casino leader
Las Vegas Sands
Diamond Offshore Drilling
, insurance company
and drug giant
Friday will be relatively light with results from
capping the week.
Shares of the oil shipping companies including
will likely stay on the market's radar as the situation in the Middle East plays out.
Another event worth watching is
Chairman Ben Bernanke's press conference on Thursday. Last week, the Fed voted to continue its quantitative easing program, as was expected. Concern that the central bank might be stoking inflation, however, continues to build in the market.
--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York
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