3 things to watch in the market this week

Happy Fat Tuesday for those of you who made it into work this morning and all the rest of you watching from vacation. Here are the three things that matter this week as far as your portfolio is concerned.

U.,S. stocks were weak overnight but are rallying this morning. The bad news was that the world went 0 for 2 on the Greek bailout and Russian ceasefire over the weekend. The good news is, barring catastrophe, neither of those situations matter for your portfolio. Stocks hate uncertainty. Death and taxes are the only things more certain that Europe and Russia remaining screwed up for the for foreseeable future.

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The S&P 500 (^GSPC) closed last week at a record high. More intriguingly the Nasdaq (^IXIC) made yet another top-10 all-time close Friday and now sits a tantalizing 2.2% away from the magical 5,000 level. All the big tech companies that could knee cap the Nasdaq rally have now reported. Wall Street has noted their caution on international headwinds and pronounced them irrelevant.

This is not a traditionally strong week for stocks. The last four years have been more or less flat and 2009 was a disaster. Regardless, “Nasdaq 5k” is, if not this week’s business, something to look out for by the end of March at the latest.

Second up on our list are earnings from E&P companies on the front line of falling gas prices. These have been the best trading plays of the year for the intrepid trading souls out there. I’m watching Marathon (MRO) on Wednesday after the close and Noble (NBL) before the bell on Thursday. Both stocks are up more than 20% from their recent lows but down by about 25% over the last six months. The fallout of falling crude is still playing out in terms of financing across all areas of the industry (take a look at Transocean over the weekend) but the stocks are a different story.

Related: S&P 500 hits new all-time high; Dow crosses 18,000; What to watch next week

Speaking of which, there’s been a lot of talk about consumers sitting on their gas savings based on government retail sales data. You can officially throw all that out pre-market Thursday when we hear from Walmart (WMT). The planet’s largest retailer is expected to report $ 486 billion in sales, almost a billion a day of it coming from the U.S.

I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating: Any company doing $ 1 billion a day of retail in America effectively IS America. Watch the stock, which is at a critical juncture. Also keep an eye on their online business which could replace Staples (SPLS) as the second largest mass-merchant in cyber space.

Stay safe, stay warm and be cool like Fonzie; with breakouts all over the place and much of Wall Street off skiing things could get out of hand over the next four days. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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