NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When stocks were sinking week after week right up until mid-June, plenty of comparisons were being made to how 2010 played out with a deep spring-summer swoon finally prompting Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to deliver QE2, setting in motion the bull run that lasted well into this year. The recent strong snapback in stocks has thrown a wrench in that scenario, according to Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at Standard & Poor's Equity Research, if the comparison was even all that apt in the first place. "From late April through early July, 2010, the S&P 500 tumbled 16% on similar sovereign debt concerns that contributed to the recent decline," he wrote in commentary on Wednesday. "Yet the drop in share prices from April 29 until mid-June 2011 was less than half as deep, even though it was also accompanied by downwardly revised Q2 GDP estimates as a result of the effects of the Japanese supply disruptions, floods, tornadoes, and generally severe weather in the U.S., along with a decline in bond yields and a topping of commodity prices." Stovall continued: "
Last week's rapid recovery of share prices indicate to us that investors don't want to be left standing on the sidelines should the June payroll report and next week's start of the Q2 EPS reporting season deliver an unexpected surprise." Thursday is all about jobs data, even though the biggest piece of the puzzle won't arrive until Friday in the form of the June employment report from the Labor Department. At 8:30 a.m. ET, Wall Street gets initial jobless claims for the week ended July 2, and continuing claims for the week ended June 25. The consensus estimates are for initial claims of 425,000, and continuing claims of 3.7 million. In other words, no relief in sight. What may get more attention on Thursday is the latest payrolls report from Automatic Data Processing at 7:30 a.m. ET. While it's generally viewed as a less-than-reliable indicator for the federal data that will follow on Friday, the ADP report did pick up some juice last time around when it said only 38,000 jobs were added in May.
The Labor Department then said the following Friday that nonfarm payrolls rose by just 54,000 in May, well below consensus views, so ADP's numbers should hold more weight than usual tomorrow. Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, expects the ADP number to improve to 75,000 but added the caveat that "we would be less surprised by weakness relative to this forecast than strength." Crude inventories are also due at 11 a.m. ET, providing another datapoint for the market with some analysts arguing that $100 per barrel may be a settling point for the commodity. On the corporate front, the retailers are due to report same-store sales for June. Thomson Reuters is expecting a cumulative 4.9% increase for the group for the month, an improvement from last year's 3.1% rise. "A 3.0% SSS
same-store-sales reflects a healthy U.S. consumer," writes analyst Jharonne Martis-Olivo in a research note previewing the reports. "Thus 4.9% SSS growth is robust, and shows continued strength from Q1." Martis-Olivo says there's been an increase of teenagers shopping at the mall this summer, and that positive same-store sales are seen "across the board" as retailers have been operating with leaner inventories. Discounters are seen reporting the best results, led by Costco ( COST) and BJ's Wholesale ( BJ) estimated to post increases of 12.5% and 7% respectively, benefiting from higher gasoline sales. Teen retailers are pegged as the next top-performing group, according to Thomson Reuters. The six top-performing retailers, according to the estimates, are expected to be Costco, The Buckle ( BKE), BJ's, Saks ( SKS), Zumiez ( ZUMZ), and Nordstrom ( JWN). There were early indications that the numbers could come in strong as both Zumiez and Hot Topic ( HOTT) beat expectations. Zumiez delivered a same-store sales jump of 9.8%, well ahead of the 5.7% estimate, while Hot Topic squeaked out a 0.4% rise, defying expectations for a decline of 2.3%. Hot Topic was pegged in the bottom six by Thomson Reuters, along with Gap ( GPS), Cato Corp. ( CATO), Stein Mart ( SMRT), Stage Stores ( STGS), and Fred's ( FRED). The earnings calendar is light but there are a few companies offering up their reports, including American Superconductor ( AMSC), International Speedway ( ISCA), and PriceSmart ( PSMT) before the bell, and Greenbrier Cos. ( GBX) after the close.