With the first-quarter earnings season coming to an end, investors will likely focus their attention on the Federal Reserve next week, which meets to determine the direction of interest rates. After some dismal economic news in the past two days, including an increase in the unemployment rate and a big drop in manufacturing activity, some economists have said the Fed could switch to an easing bias on Tuesday, signaling that it is willing to reduce rates in the future. But few experts are looking for an actual rate cut. "The jobs report, while weak, did not exhibit the kind of weakness that would prompt the Fed to feel a rate cut is urgent," said Tony Crescenzi, chief bond market strategist at Miller Tabak & Co, and contributor to The Street.com's sister site RealMoney. "They may feel it's needed at some point, but would rather wait to see if the ending of war with Iraq is met by improved economic conditions." Last time the Fed met, in March, it said it could not accurately assess the balance of risks because of the ongoing war. Crescenzi thinks the central bank could repeat that view on Tuesday, but he said it is possible it will move to an accommodative stance, or even shift to neutral. Despite the recent data, Crescenzi believes there are some reasons to be optimistic about the economic recovery. He noted that mortgage refinancing continues to be strong and that oil prices have fallen sharply, and that both factors will put more money into consumers' pockets. He also believes chain-store sales have stabilized and that construction spending is falling at a much slower pace. SEI Investments chief economist Nancy Kimelman is somewhat more skeptical, however, noting that while oil prices have fallen off their war-related highs, they're still acting as a drag on the economy.