BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- Today's the first trading day of 2011 -- and you can bet that market participants are waiting with baited breath to see whether the New Year will start off on the right foot.Not surprisingly, light trading was the rule last week as traders took reprieves from the market to spend time with their families; as a result, market direction has been somewhat less convicted to end December. Today is the first time since Christmas that we'll get a reasonable glimpse at investor sentiment. All told, the S&P 500 gained 12.78% in 2010, a strong year by conventional standards. But nearly all of those gains came in the final quarter of the year as bulls struggled to take control of price action. With a bevy of economic data scheduled to be released this week, we should have a good opportunity for one side of the market to become dominant. Related: 3 Investments That Could Rally in 2011 Once again in 2011, we'll turn to our weekly Rocket Stocks plays to maximize our upside potential. For the uninitiated, Rocket Stocks are our weekly list of companies with short-term gain catalysts and longer-term growth potential. In the last 85 weeks, our Rocket Stocks have beaten the S&P 500 by 77.27%. This week, we'll continue our trend of looking at stocks with rising analyst expectations. On Wall Street, expectations can mean everything -- and stocks with rising expectations often benefit from increased buying pressures from institutions and retail investors alike. To find them, I run a quantitative screen that seeks out stocks with a combination of analyst upgrades and positive earnings surprises. Here's a look at this week's potential plays.
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