Bears Feel the Uncertainty

Bears lead this week's sentiment poll, and they expect the homebuilding and commercial banks sectors to post the biggest declines.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Bears lead the latest edition of

TheStreet's

Bull vs. Bear poll this week and they anticipate the homebuilding and commercial banks sectors to post the biggest declines.

After a week that saw the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

fall 3.3%, and slip back in the red for the year, participants who were bearish in the poll as of 5 a.m. EDT Monday tallied 332, or 46.8%, of the 709 votes cast. Poll-takers who were bullish amounted to 278 votes, or 39.2%, while those who were neutral on the stock market this week came in with 99 votes, or 14%.

Premarket futures were echoing the bearish sentiment, suggesting a lower open Monday on Wall Street.

Asian stocks ended mixed Monday, with the Nikkei 225 stock average in Japan falling 0.6% and China's Shanghai Composite posting a rise of 2.1%. Stocks in Europe were lower as of 5 a.m.

U.S. stocks fell across the board last week -- the

S&P 500

dropped 3.8% and

Nasdaq

fell 5% -- largely on growth concerns after the

Federal Reserve's

cautious comments on the U.S. economy and

weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data

.

As for the new trading week, data on housing will grab the spotlight as will earnings from retailers

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

,

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

and

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

, and technology giants

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

, which recently lost its

CEO Mark Hurd

, and

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

.

Survey-takers expect the precious metals sector to lead gainers.

> > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll

The poll closes at 9:15 a.m.

Here's a wrap-up of our other polls:

Altria Group

(MO) - Get Report

will outperform this year against a group of large-caps that shared ranks in hitting fresh 52-week highs this week, according to readers of

TheStreet

.

Altria, the parent of cigarette maker

Philip Morris USA

, touched a fresh 52-week high of $22.68 last Monday, and pushed the needle further to $22.78 on Tuesday. The stock closed at $22.35 on Friday.

At the start of the week, we asked our readers which of the five largest companies (by market cap) that touched fresh heights earlier this week would outperform in the second half of 2010. Voting against

Siemens

(SI) - Get Report

,

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

,

AstraZeneca

(AZN) - Get Report

and

Deere

(DE) - Get Report

, readers of

TheStreet

overwhelmingly agreed on Altria to the tune of 49% out of 860 voters.

>>Click here for full results and analysis of our 52-week highs poll

JetBlue

(JBLU) - Get Report

flight attendant Steven Slater slid down the emergency exit chute into the spotlight -- and federal court -- after he lost his temper in an argument with an uncooperative passenger. And since his dramatic exit from the aircraft, Slater has been hailed as a working-class hero and gained the admiration of his fellow frustrated service industry brethren.

On Wednesday, in light of all this, we asked readers of

TheStreet

what they thought about Slater's reaction and the felony charges he now faces.

Just slightly under 50% of the those who responded to our poll believe that Slater should not have to face felony charges. Respondents falling into this camp might be interested in joining the

Steven Slater Legal Defense Fund

, set up by his close friend Gary Baumgardner.

More than 35% of voters think that Slater should be charged for his overreaction, but that perhaps felony charges are a bit extreme. The minority or those surveyed, at 15%, believe Slater put people in danger, and he should face the full repercussion of felony charges.

>>Click here for full results and analysis of our Steven Slater poll

Boyd Gaming

(BYD) - Get Report

is the most probable strategic buyer of

Ameristar Casinos

(ASCA)

, according to

TheStreet's

poll.

Ameristar confirmed on Thursday that it is "considering strategic alternatives," which could include the potential sale of the company, after the market speculated a "For Sale" listing was looming earlier in the week. The company said it does not plan on disclosing developments unless its board determines that "there is a material need to update the market." A deal is not certain, the company advised.

More than half of voters -- 58.4% -- said Boyd is the most likely candidate. The regional casino operator has little geographical overlap and a potential deal would diversify it away from Atlantic City and the Las Vegas locals market, J.P. Morgan analyst Joseph Greff wrote in a note.

Penn National Gaming

(PENN) - Get Report

received 23.6% of the vote.

>>Click here for full results and analysis of our Ameristar poll

Written by Joseph Woelfel and Ty Wenger in New York

.