The market has been more temperamental than a teething 2-year-old. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) only fell 6% in September, but it felt more like 20% with the daily swings up and down. But September is finally over and we're heading into a few fast weeks of economic data and earnings releases.

With stock market and macroeconomic factors taking new twists nearly every day, it's hard to keep up. So let's focus on the coming week's data and news that are going to matter most to your bottom line.

It's the Unemployment, Stupid

The biggest news this week will be the monthly unemployment rate, which will be released on Friday. Last week, initial unemployment claims fell to 391,000, the first time since April that the weekly claims number had fallen below 400,000.
This week, analysts polled by Breifing.com said that they're expecting initial claims to climb back to the 400,000 mark and the unemployment rate to hold steady at 9.1%. A surprise on either side of this expectation could send the market into a further panic or quiet fears that we're headed into a double-dip recession. Watch this closely.

Half a World Away, But Closer Than You Think

As important as our problems are here in the U.S., it's the debt crisis going on in Europe that's been driving the market lower over the past month. Last week, Austria joined many of the 17 members of the euro currency zone in voting to expand the group's bailout fund. That leaves votes at Malta and the Netherlands this week, and potentially Slovakia shortly thereafter.

This may seem like a bailout of finances half a world away, but Greece's debt levels have climbed so high that without the bailout fund, the country would be on a quick path to default. That could start the dominoes falling: Banks like Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), and JPMorgan (JPM) have holdings in Europe that could come under pressure; yields would rise on other eurozone countries with debt problems, and our faltering worldwide recovery would likely crumble.

If this bailout goes off without a hitch, we may see some confidence return to the market. If not, the panic could be extreme.

The Macro Bottom Line

For all the near-panic we've seen from investors in the past two months, the overriding economic data haven't been as bad as you might think. Unemployment is holding steady, corporate earnings are very strong, and household balance sheets are strengthening. And some data suggest that general conditions are improving: Just this morning, the Institute for Supply Management released its index of factory activity, which rose to 51.6 from 50.6 in August. A higher index level suggests expanding manufacturing activity, one of the foundations of the economy and a possible recovery.

If Europe does its part this week, and we see improvement in unemployment, sentiment may begin to change.

Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, and check out his personal stock holdings. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup.



Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

12 Comments

Filter by:
orchidad

spin...spin...spin....yea right aol

October 04 2011 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Somebody

Unemployment is a function of money supply. When the money supply deflates, as M3 is deflating nowadays, people cannot possibly be employed at levels that allow them to earn the monetary bubble level incomes. Google for "unemployment kondratieff wave" to see another way to look at unemployment: Count who is actually employed.

October 04 2011 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

Europe is crashing just like the US. RIP, USA. Our last chance is a good president in 2012.

October 04 2011 at 2:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
milofilomay

Consumers create jobs not wall street or the feds or tax breaks or republicans or dems or the US congress ! Tax breaks have been here for over 10 yrs ? Where are all the jobs ? From state to state .City to city . County to county across this great nation and guess what ? NO JOBS so if tax breaks create jobs whare are they ? Over 10 yrs and no jobs ! Now the US congress for theh last 15 yrs have bankrupt this country ! Two wars for over 10 yrs at 2 BILLION a week of borrowed money has done the job ! Not soc sec like everyone in government would like you to believe! Republicans are borrow and spend and DEMs are tax and spend and the US congress and both parties are to balme ! The news ANAL-YST are a joke they know nothing ! Consumers like you and I create jobs by going out and spending ! When we spend companies have to hire more people to make the products we buy! Thats how it works in a consumer economy like the USA!! Do all the stupid republicans and DEMs understand that now ? Facts are facts ! So to republicans Dems and tea baggers ! You are all stupid and need to get your heads out of your ass!

October 04 2011 at 12:58 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to milofilomay's comment
dabrownman

No. The Dems used to Tax and Spend. Now they are just Spend Spend Spend. They kept all the Republican tax cuts and approved the payroll tax cut while doling out more goodies and freebies from the 50% of Americans that still pay income taxes to their voters who don't pay income taxes then anyone could ever imagine and we can imaging them doing a lot. Now the Marxist posing as socialist liberal progressive Dems are out all across the liberal parts of the USA demonstrating and getting arrested because they think we don't give them enough free stuff to live like millionaires and billionaires.

October 04 2011 at 1:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
orchidad

Gee, what did you think would happen when clinton opened up asia, guess cheap labor always wins. The taxbreaks helped me start a business and hire 5 workers and a secretary. Maybe small beans to you, but those workers are happy to have jobs. So maybe it's time for you to get your head out of your A_ _................. Period, end of quote.

October 04 2011 at 4:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
gpfs

The U.S. has 23 million Federal/State workers and 11 million working in manufacturing. There is the problem!

October 04 2011 at 12:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Greg

Nothing like a good solid, opinion. There could be a panic, or maybe not.

It might rain today, or maybe not. I wonder if someone will pay me a 100K a year as a weather-person?

October 04 2011 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello

Even if Greece is bailed out, who's gone to bail out all the other country's?

October 04 2011 at 10:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Morris Cantonitis

Good Fundamentals for US Markets to rise,

But instead Satan has a BIG Wall Alley PIGG NYC surprise,

The PIGGS play against Good Mans worth,

The PIGG will never again GIVE BIRTH

Satan chokes the pre-born 2 legged mis-creation with their umbilical cord and yanks the PIGGS out for his feast #1 pork barbecue hot n spicy American PIGG the way his Legion likes it.

October 04 2011 at 10:09 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Morris Cantonitis

Occupy Wall Alley PIGGS.

300,000,000

Nothing wrong with Europe.

US is a PIGG run by Red Plague & Wall Alley PIGGS

Pack yer bags. NYC GETS NUKED

October 04 2011 at 9:52 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Morris Cantonitis

That's right Wall Alley PIGGS.

Shake Good man out of the Markets for your PIGG purses.

Satan Shakes U FED REserve, SEC & Wall Alley PIGGS out of your PIGG Dens.

It's not a Bear Market.

It's corruption at the highest level of the US PIGG

NYC GETS NUKED.

October 04 2011 at 9:49 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply