Now that Friday's jobs data has raised concerns about the breadth of the economic recovery -- while also leading analysts to believe interest rates will remain low longer than previously expected -- the market is likely to trade with little conviction in the coming week.

"Everyone is on hold," said Robert Pavlik, a portfolio manager at Oak Tree Asset Management. There is "no real conviction to become a seller or a buyer because we're not getting the economic reports that say the economy is way on track or getting the ones that say we want to be out of stocks and back into bonds."

Paul Nolte, director of investments at Hindsdale Associates, also thinks the market will lack momentum. "My guess has been that the markets are digesting the big gains from 2003 and will maybe do that for a while," he said, describing next week's action as likely to be "push and pull."

Friday's February employment report -- which showed that nonfarm payrolls rose by only 21,000 -- left the market thinking that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates longer than previously thought, in order to stimulate the economy. But while low rates can be good for equity markets, they can hamper corporate earnings growth, Nolte noted.

"Low rates all by themselves are not the magic pill for what ails the economy," said Nolte.

Thus, the weak jobs data will create a "wall of worry" over the market next week, especially as the first-quarter earnings season approaches, Pavlik said.

As a result, Pavlik thinks the market will have more down days than up days as the end of March approaches. He expects it to move less than 1% either way on any given day next week. "I can't really pinpoint what is going to be driving the market except short-term traders," he said.

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