NEW YORK -- A full menu of fresh economic numbers often tips investors off as to what direction the stock market is headed next. But this week's flood of key data, ranging from the latest readings on manufacturing, factory orders, jobs and consumer confidence, might not move the stock market needle as much as usual even if the numbers impress Wall Street.
What's to blame? What else? The uncertainty related to the ongoing negotiations between Democrats and Republicans to avert the "fiscal cliff," argues David Kelly, chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds. "It would be surprising to see a significant market trend emerge in either direction," he says. "For investors, the surplus of uncertainty makes it emotionally difficult to commit to long-term plans."
Not even Friday's reading on the number of jobs created in November is expected to pack its usual punch. That's due in part to distortions from Superstorm Sandy. It's also due to the fact that investors will instead be focusing on every headline, rumor and new proposal that emerges from politicians from both parties in their very public spat on how to fix the nation's fiscal problems. If lawmakers don't agree on a deal by the Jan. 1 deadline, when tax increases and spending cuts automatically kick in, a recession - and stock slump - loom.
The my-turn, your-turn negotiations continued Monday when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, offered a GOP counter-proposal to President Obama's initial position floated Thursday. Still, the sides remain far apart.