Updated from 6:22 a.m. ESTNEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When isn't it about jobs? Well, this week is most definitely about jobs as the release of the U.S. government's employment report on Friday could present investors with a sense of where this market is going. And that's a good thing because participants in TheStreet.com's RealMoney Barometer Poll as of 9:15 a.m. EST Monday are having a hard time making up their minds. Poll-takers who were bullish about the prospects for the week tallied 459 votes, or 44% of the 1,042 votes cast in the poll, while those leaning bearish tallied 407 votes, or 39%. Participants in the poll who were neutral totaled 177 votes, or 17%. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect the unemployment rate in February to have risen to 9.8% from 9.7% in January. Precious metals was viewed as the sector most likely to rise this week, while the banking sector was viewed by poll participants as the sector most likely to post declines this week, followed closely by homebuilders. Earnings this week are expected from retailers Costco ( COST) and Staples ( SPLS) and technology companies Ciena ( CIEN) and Marvell ( MRVL). Solar companies such as Solarfun Power ( SOLF) also are on the docket. In the U.S., stocks ended last week on the downside. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7%, the S&P 500 dipped 0.4% and the Nasdaq dropped 0.3%. Premarket futures suggest that U.S. stocks will open higher Monday on Wall Street. Meanwhile, in corporate news, Prudential PLC ( PUK) confirmed Monday it reached an agreement to buy AIG's ( AIG) Asian life-insurance operations for $35.5 billion. Millipore ( MIL) has reached an agreement to be acquired by Germany's Merck for $107 a share in cash, or a total of $7.2 billion, including debt. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll The poll closed at 9:15 a.m. On Monday in Asia, stocks in Tokyo rose 0.5% and Hong Kong shares advanced 2.2%. As of 9:15 a.m. Monday, Britain's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX, and the CAC in Paris were posting gains.
Here is a wrap-up of our other polls: Tiger Woods' televised apology on Feb. 19 looked and sounded sincere -- but apparently readers of TheStreet aren't buying it. "I think Tiger is a disgusting man," one reader wrote, after the televised statement. "He's a coward and a cheater and made a fool of his fans, especially the young ones." It might come as no surprise then that the largest portion of voters in our recent poll asking, "In light of Tiger's televised apology last week, which sponsors do you think handled their relationship with Woods most prudently?" answered, " Accenture ( ACN) and AT&T ( T)." Those companies were the first to walk away from Tiger -- and they also walked away with 48.4% of the votes. Votes in our poll were less supportive of Nike ( NKE) and Electronic Arts, ( ERTS) both of whom have fully backed Tiger. They received 26.9% of the votes. But the ones who received the least support among our voters were the ones who've been trying to have it both ways. The sponsors that have been hanging out in the shadows, namely, P&G's ( PG) Gillette, Tag Heuer, and PepsiCo's ( PEP) Gatorade received the least number of votes, at 24.7%. Click here for full results and analysis of our Tiger Woods' Sponsors poll.
A lineup of the usual suspects for the crime of inciting a double-dip in the global recession would include China's property bubble, the U.S. employment quagmire, and the still-unfolding European Union economic woes led by Greece's Mount Olympus-sized budget fiasco. One could also argue that Goldman Sachs ( GS) and the rest of the banks that have helped usher Greece onto the stage of its own economic tragedy deserve a starring role, too. Given all of this negative noise in the markets, we felt compelled to ask TheStreet readers: "Who would be responsible for the global economic recessionary double dip if it were to happen?" The results were somewhat surprising. But the good news first: Leading the survey were respondents who believe that there will not be a double dip in the global recession in 2010. Approximately 30% of survey-takers think that none of the suspects -- not China, not Greece, nor U.S. unemployment, or even home foreclosures that the unemployed can't stop from occurring, or even Goldman Sachs -- none of 'em can slow the global recovery. When it came to the potential culprits of another economic crash, survey-takers were pretty evenly throwing around the blame. What's more, even though the Greek economic trouble has attracted the most consistent headlines, it is actually seen as the least likely cause of a double-dip in the global recession. Click here for full results and analysis of our global economic double dip poll.
MGM Mirage ( MGM) is in no danger of filing for bankruptcy in 2010, users of TheStreet say. An overwhelming 83.3% of voters in our weekly poll said MGM is safe, while a mere 16.7% of voters said the casino operator would file Chapter 11 this year. Bankruptcy chatter arose last week on message boards after MGM reported a bigger-than-expected loss in its fourth quarter. During the quarter, MGM lost $433.9 million, or 98 cents a share, compared with a loss of $1.15 billion, or $4.15 a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding an impairment charge to write down the value of undeveloped Atlantic City land and other items, MGM lost 21 cents a share. Revenue dropped 11% to $1.45 billion from $1.62 billion last year Granted, it should be noted that this was only message board talk, and should not be valued as anything more than investors grumbling their opinions. Still, stock prices are essentially a collection of opinions writ large upon the market, so if such fears are being voiced, it's worth putting them to the test. And the test revealed that MGM has the strong backing of its bankers and investors, who believe the company will be just fine. It's massive portfolio of assets should also ensure that MGM will be able to repay its debt. Click here for full results and analysis of our MGM MIrage poll. -- Written by Joseph Woelfel and Ty Wenger in New York.