Watch Buying Momentum in the Coming Week
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The stock market seems to want to defy analysts expecting a pullback.
"I'm holding lots of cash and I don't see many charts that I like. I would like to see things reset a bit," wrote RealMoney contributor James "Rev Shark" De Porre on Friday. "The easiest thing in the world for me to do is to write about why this rally is doomed and how a major turn is going to occur at any moment. That is what I'd like to see happen, but I see no evidence that it will happen right now." In short, he concludes that "support continues to hold."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average , while losing momentum, still managed to drift higher by 33 points, or 0.3%, this past week, hitting 13,000 several times during intraday trading.
Some investors are still trying to find value in individual stock picks, while others are holding back and waiting to see whether selling or buying momentum picks up.
According to EPFR Global Fund Data, investors pulled out nearly $6 billion from U.S. equity funds in the past week. Yet, at the same time, data suggest investors are also ramping up risk in some asset classes, including funds involved in mortgage-backed and high-yield bonds.
One reason for the slowdown may have been the overall tone of fourth-quarter earnings. Research firm FactSet reports that with almost all of the S&P 500 companies having reported, only 66% reported earnings per share that beat Wall Street estimates, while 33% had EPS that missed consensus. In contrast, 73% of companies have beaten estimates over the past fourth quarters.
Looking ahead, analysts are bracing for a year-over-year decline of 0.4% in earnings for the first quarter of the current year, followed by single-digit growth in the second and third quarters. That said, the long-term horizon is still bright -- double-digit growth rates are expected again by the fourth quarter.
The earning calendar grows even thinner the coming week. Key companies scheduled to report next week include Southwestern Energy (SWN) , Priceline.com(PCLN) , El Paso (EP) , Office Depot (ODP) , Tenet Healthcare (THC) , Staples (SPLS) and Big Lots (BIG) .
As earnings season winds to a close, market participants will increasingly shift focus to economic news, as well as hints elsewhere for whether the rally has more legs.
A couple of discomforting signs threaten to curtail the meandering rise in stocks. The past week's data showed a contracting economy in the eurozone, underscoring what many economists would argue is the region's greatest challenge: how to avoid years of slow growth once the European debt crisis boils over. Crude oil has been surging above $100 a barrel, fueling anxiety about the economic outlook, in particular how U.S. consumers might react.