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Wall St. to assess fallout from global stock plunge

From the Associated Press

If last week was Wall Street’s big dive, this week will be when it tries to figure out how deep the water is.

Stocks are in for a shaky ride, now that the last five sessions have erased all of this year’s gains and then some. Investors in the coming days will be grasping at any and all signals, both domestic and foreign, to see if the market finds a foothold.

Most market watchers now agree that last week’s plunge doesn’t signal disaster.

The stock market, which pushed the Dow to 31 record highs since early October, had been climbing at a pace that was arguably more extraordinary than the depth of Tuesday’s drop.

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Chatter about a big correction had been circulating the floors of stock exchanges for months -- it just came as a shock that so much of the correction happened in a single day.

Many say there’s no reason that stocks shouldn’t resume their trek into record territory in the coming months, given that little has changed fundamentally.

But others argue that stocks had inflated way too much, and that there is still more air to be let out.

The Dow Jones industrials are down 3.3% on the year, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index is 4.4% lower, and the Nasdaq composite index is down 5.9%.

No matter where the data fall, however, Wall Street is anticipating choppiness this week as some investors flee from stocks to the traditionally safer Treasury market, while others swoop in to scoop up bargains.

And because last week’s plunge was triggered in large part by a sharp decline in Chinese stocks, which also set off drops in other Asian and European markets, U.S. investors will undoubtedly be looking abroad to see whether other countries’ stocks are recovering or collapsing.

Trading indexes in Asia were down this morning. In Japan, the Nikkei average ended the morning session down 2.2% from Friday’s market close.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 1.9% as of mid-morning. And in China, the Shanghai and Shenzhen 300 index retreated 1.2%. The measure plunged 6.3% last week.

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The week ahead

Today

* Treasury bill auction.

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Tuesday

* Labor Department issues revised reports on productivity and costs for the fourth quarter of 2006.

* Commerce Department reports on factory orders for January.

* Quarterly earnings report due from Brown-Forman.

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Wednesday

* Federal Reserve releases its “beige book” survey of regional economic conditions and reports on consumer credit for January.

* Quarterly earnings reports due from TiVo, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Saks.

Thursday

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* The nation’s largest retailers announce their sales figures for February.

* Labor Department reports on weekly jobless claims.

* Freddie Mac reports on mortgage rates.

* Quarterly earnings reports due from Walt Disney, Costco Wholesale and Hovnanian Enterprises.

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Friday

* Commerce Department reports on international trade for January.

* Labor Department reports on employment for February.


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