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MARKET SNAPSHOT: Investors To Spend Holiday Gazing At Europe

By Wallace Witkowski, MarketWatch SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Investor attention will remain squarely on Europe in the coming week, according to analysts, and not just because the soccer teams of two of the region's biggest credit risks are duking it out in a championship match. U.S. economic indicators will likely be pushed to the sidelines, not just with the Independence Day holiday splitting the week in half, but with continued positive momentum from announcements that the European Union will establish a single supervisor for the region's banks and seek to bring down costs in Italy and Spain. "The big question is: Is news out of Europe similar to the [long-term refinancing operations] last fall, which precipitated a rally in equities, or is it a continuation of Band-Aid solutions?" said Andrew Slimmon, managing director of global investment solutions at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. The announcement by the European Central Bank in October 2011 that it would provide hundreds of billions of euros in three-year loans to banks to increase liquidity, the so-called LTROs, caused equity markets to rally off lows of the year. "If this is an LTR solution in terms of strength to the banks, we could see a significant follow-through in markets," added Slimmon. The European news certainly boosted U.S. equity markets on Friday, sending them well into positive territory for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 2.2%, for a 1.9% weekly gain. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) jumped 2.5% for a 2% weekly gain, and the Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) surged 3% for a 1.5% gain on the week. Moves by European leaders are expected to fuel the rally into next week, according to Greg Peterson, director of investment research for Ballentine Partners. "Although people are arguing about what it means, there's kind of a herd mentality going on," he said, as the market has become steeped in a risk-on, risk-off mentality over the past year. After a few months of Spain's bank woes stoking the risk-off engine, Friday's news out of Europe allowed the market to snap back like a rubber band, Peterson commented. It's enough of an event to allow that optimism to continue into next week unless Spain or Italy drops some new bombshell, with reactions to U.S. economic data registering as small blips on the market's radar, he said. After Spain and Italy compete in the European soccer championship this Sunday, the biggest event out of the region will be an expected rate cut from the ECB on Thursday. "This is one time where the standout will not be the [U.S.] monthly employment report, it will be the ECB," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC. "People have come to the conclusion that they'll cut rates by 25 basis points, and from that standpoint it's a positive. It's not a magic bullet, but part and parcel it's an easing of tensions." All three analysts expect volumes to be light on Monday and Tuesday, with the Fourth of July holiday falling on a Wednesday. On Monday, Markit Economics releases its U.S. manufacturing purchasing-managers' index for June and the Institute for Supply Management releases its June index for the manufacturing sector. Also, the Commerce Department will release construction spending data for June. Maybe it's for the better that many are making it an extra long weekend because there's a very real possibility that those manufacturing numbers will confirm the economy is growing at a less than 2% clip for the second quarter, making it the fifth out of six quarters of poor growth, Greenhaus said. Tuesday brings May U.S. factory orders data from the Commerce Department, along with car makers releasing their U.S. sales figures for June. On Thursday, ADP releases June employment data and ISM puts out it services index. Then on Friday come June payroll figures and the unemployment rate. No significant quarterly earnings reports are due out in the coming week, and aren't set to heat up until Alcoa Inc. (AA) releases results on July 9.

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