Updated from 7:19 a.m. EST
NEW YORK (
) -- Stocks have traded sideways for a month now on some favorable economic data, leading to what is sure some frustration within investor ranks. But
sentiment survey indicates investors remain bullish, hoping for something, anything to push the market higher this week.
meets this week, but expectations are it will stick to its near-zero interest rate policy. Initial jobless claims will be released Thursday, and if they keep declining could buoy the hearts of investors that feel the jobs picture is brightening. Maybe earnings reports from the likes of
will do the trick.
Investors who expect stocks to go higher this week snared 243, or 57.6%, of the 422 votes cast in TheStreet.com's RealMoney Baromoter survey. Poll participants who expect stocks to decline this week took 26.1%, or 110, of the votes cast. Neutral took 16.4%, or 69 votes.
Commercial banks remain all the rage, like they did in last week's survey, as survey participants selected banks as the sector most likely to post gains this week.
paid back the Troubled Asset Relief Program last week, while
it was doing the same
after weeks of speculation.
Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, along with other top bankers from Bank of America,
, among others, are scheduled to meet with President Obama on Monday.
Obama called Wall Street bankers "fat cats" in a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday, singling out financial institutions for causing much of the financial crisis of the past year. That should make for an interesting meeting.
The precious metals followed banks as the sector seen most likely to move up in the coming week.
> > See Poll Results
Dow Jones Industrial Average
ended last week with a gain of 0.8%, the
advanced 0.4%, while
ended lower, declining 0.2%.
U.S. markets were headed for a higher open Monday on news that Dubai received $10 billion in emergency funds to cover its massive debts, calming the nerves of investors who worried about a major default.
Asian stocks ended mostly higher Monday, but Japan's key Nikkei 225 stock average dipped slightly by 2.19 points.
At 7:10 a.m. EST, stocks in Britain, Germany and France were higher.
Here are the results of our other polls:
Throughout this past week, we asked users of
whether they thought Tiger Woods' sponsors were making the right decision by standing behind the disgraced golfer. Since then, Tiger has taken a major retreat from the public eye -- but not before announcing his intention to reprioritize his life away from golf and toward his family.
During the week, Woods' major sponsors, like
were mostly standing behind him,
had removed an image of Woods from the homepage of its Web site and Gillette has decided to phase Woods out from its ads while he tries to repair his personal problems.
As for what users of
have to say, a clear majority of our survey respondents -- 68.3% -- say that Tiger Woods' sponsors should detach their brands from Woods tainted name. A mere 31.7% say it is still a positive to have the world's number one golfer endorsing your company's brands.
A few hours after we published the results of that poll of Sunday, Accenture announced it was severing its relationship with Tiger Woods.
While the recent shake-up of senior management at
has certainly required the printing of a few new business cards, public opinion is divided on whether the management shuffle will be enough.
In our poll last week, 43.8% of
readers said they endorsed the changes, so much so that they would consider buying a GM car. Still, 56.2% of readers felt that shake-up was not enough to turn around the troubled car company.
History often favors the tarnishing of squeaky-clean images -- Tiger Woods, most recently; crime-fighting, madam-frequenting Eliot Spitzer, more distantly; and take your pick in terms of historical world leaders -- but we may have gone too far in taking down the heroes of the world when we asked
readers last week: Has Warren Buffett (view
) been exerting undue influence in the current battle for
Approximately 74% of our survey-takers said that Kraft and Nestle management are making all their own decisions.
As for the 26% of survey respondents who think that Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway have been exerting undue influence in the Chocolate War, they may be the type that also believe man never really landed on the moon and that the Great Pyramids of Egypt were really built by aliens.
rush to repay its loans under the Troubled Asset Relief Program? According to
users, that would be a splendid idea.
About 63% of those who voted in our weeklong poll on the matter said that it would be better for Citi to escape from under the government's thumb, while nearly 37% said it shouldn't make haste to pay back its debt.
A raft of economic information out of China Friday had implications for the direction of the dry-bulk shipping industry, and investors and market watchers were picking through the data.
Though on the surface the November figures, compiled by China's National Bureau of Statistics, once again showed vigorous growth for the world's third-largest economy, dry-bulk bears and bulls could both find evidence for their respective positions as the market
For the bulls, the data indicates that the Chinese economy is clipping along, poised to achieve that 9% gross domestic product growth that many market watchers are forecasting for 2010.
For the bears, the pace of that growth could mean that fears of a bubble are percolating over in Beijing, which could convince China's finance ministers to tighten monetary policy, which would curb growth, which could mean a slower pace of iron-ore consumption by the big steel mills (mills that have so far ignored Beijing's warnings about their manic output), which would, of course, lead to lighter demand for the gigantic dry-bulk carriers that move said ore across the oceans.
With this in mind, we asked readers of
earlier this week to
that they believe will perform the best in 2010.
We offered up a selection of six candidates and, once again, the controversial
took home the trophy, claiming 39% of the vote. In second place was conservative
, with 25.7% of the vote.
It may seem counterintuitive that
, which is currently investigating internal accounting errors -- and is being accused by some of accounting fraud -- is also viewed by the market as a strong buy.
But a fact is a fact -- or at least a poll result is a poll result -- and that, indeed, is what our poll says.
asked it readers last week,
Do you think SunPower's recent accounting issues are much ado about nothing, or is the worst light yet to shine on SunPower in this crisis?
the message we received back was: buy, buy, buy; here comes the sun on a big price spike.
Approximately 46% of survey respondents said SunPower is a strong buy and that the market has really overreacted to the accounting issues.
The investment belief that SunPower should be overweighted, even if it is not a strong buy, garnered 18% of the votes, right behind the prudent market watchers.
Click here for full results and analysis of our solar sector poll
-- Written by Joseph Woelfel and Ty Wenger in New York.