Bulls Have Little Fear of Fed

Updated from 7 a.m. EDT

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The bulls hold the sentiment edge in a week filled with data, light on earnings and a decision from the Federal Reserve on interest rates.

Depending on who you ask, the Fed meeting is either important or a non-event since it's likely the Fed will keep the fed funds rate at close to zero.

And since the Fed is expected to hold ready steady, what the central bank says after it announces its rate decision on Tuesday afternoon will be monitored closely.

A strengthening economy means the Fed eventually will have to raise rates. But a potential rate hike isn't on the minds of many participants in the TheStreet.com's RealMoney Barometer Poll as a new trading week begins.

As of 10:00 a.m. EDT Monday, participants in the poll who were bullish tallied 473 votes, or 45.8% of the 1,032 votes cast in the poll. Bearish votes tallied 371, or 35.9%, while poll-takers who were neutral came in at 188 votes, or 18.2%.

Commercial banks was widely viewed as the sector most likely to rise this week. It led precious metals as the sectors seen declining this week as well, but by a slimmer margin.

Earnings this week are expected from FedEx ( FDX), Palm ( PALM) and Nike ( NKE).

Last week, U.S. stocks rose with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.6%, the S&P 500 gaining 1% and Nasdaq closing to the upside by 1.8%.

Stocks on Wall Street opened lower on Monday.

In corporate news Monday, Phillips-Van Heusen ( PVH) is reportedly nearing a deal to acquire clothing company Tommy Hilfiger for roughly $3 billion.

> > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll

The poll closed at 10:00 a.m.

Here is a wrap-up of our other polls:

Apple's ( AAPL) stock will continue to rise throughout the year, according to TheStreet users.

Shares of Apple are expected to end 2010 between $240 and $280, according to 46% of voters in our weekly poll.

Another 34% believe Apple stock could go even higher, surpassing $280 by the year's end, while 15% say it will remain stable between $200 and $240.

Combined, that equates, of course, to 80% of respondents in our survey who believe that Apple stock will finish the year significantly higher than its current bid price.

There are those who advise buying Apple ahead of the iPad launch, and that once the device hits stores the stock will pull back. Jim Cramer, for one, notes that we know how to trade Apple from the launch of the iPhone. The best time to buy, Cramer says, is after the product is revealed but before it gets in the hands of consumers. He anticipates negative media criticism of the product after the launch, which could result in a pullback.

>>Click here for full results and analysis of our Apple stock poll

Recalls by other big automakers do nothing to diminish Toyota's ( TM) many problems, according to a recent poll by TheStreet.

The other automakers' recalls haven't diverted attention away from or minimized the impact of Toyota's own problems, according to 74.8% of TheStreet users.

On the other hand, 25.2% of voters in the poll do, in fact, credit Toyota for engaging in recalls without pointing fingers at the rest of the auto industry -- or calling attention to the fact that Toyota is far from alone in dealing with recall issues.

Toyota's stock finished the week flat, less than 0.1% higher at $77 a share. Toyota's massive PR machine is now in full play, but trying to smooth over allegations that its rapid acceleration issues have been connected with a reported 52 fatalities is no small task.

What's more, is that even though Toyota has already recalled about 8.5 million vehicles globally, assembled a garrison of inside and outside auto experts to discredit critics of its electronic systems, and pushed its president, Akio Toyoda, to the front line of congressional hearings in Washington on Toyota's safety problems -- all in hopes of putting the past behind and moving on to winning back market share with aggressive customer incentives like sweet financing deals -- Toyota's accelerator issues have been coming back to haunt the automaker in recent days.

Most recently, investigators were looking into two runaway Prius incidents that occurred in the week of March 8 -- one on a San Diego highway and the other in a New York City suburb -- and trying ascertain the cause of the incidents. Toyota and federal investigators are apparently unable to replicate the San Diego runaway incident, raising questions about the credibility of the report, according to the Associated Press.

>>Click here for full results and analysis of our Toyota recall poll

Patriot Coal ( PCX) will stand to benefit the most from the bullish indicators for the coal industry, according to a recent coal-stock poll by TheStreet.

Patriot Coal was deemed the ultimate coal stock heavyweight winner, according to 33.9% of poll voters. Trailing Patriot Coal was Alpha Natural Resources ( ANR), which won 20% of the votes.

Next in line was Arch Coal ( ACI), which received 19.4% of the votes, followed by Massey Energy, ( MEE) with 14.6% of the votes.

One stock not listed in our poll, but mentioned as a favorite by Jim Cramer on his CNBC "Mad Money" show last week and on our recent report on finding a good coal stock dividend is Walter Energy ( WLT).

"Not all coal is created equal," according to Cramer, who noted that the great majority of Walter Energy's income is attached to the metallurgical coal so highly prized by China right now.

>>Click here for full results and analysis of our coal stocks poll

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel and Ty Wenger in New York.

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