NEW YORK WEEK AHEAD

IT will be another battleground for S&P 500 index this week. Will the bears finally give up and let the bulls have their way?

The S&P 500, the market’s broadest measure, managed to close out the week above the psychologically important 1,400 mark for the first time since early April. But the index is still down 0.4 per cent for the month so far even after gaining 1.8 per cent for the week, with only one trading day left in April.

Brian Lazorishak, senior quantitative analyst and portfolio manager at Chase Investment Counsel, said a close above 1,400 is positive, but the recent high, near 1,422, is a more important technical level.

“That’s what we’re looking for on the upside as confirmation there’s room to move higher,” Lazorishak said.

“A close above that would open the window to testing highs back to early 2008. The next natural area you'd see is a run to at least 1,440, the May 2008 high.”

This week’s release of a slew of economic data on the US labour market and the beginning of the latter half of corporate earnings will be keenly watched to see if they are enough to allow stocks to break above the recent trading range.

The S&P 500, up 11.6 per cent for the year, jumped 4.4 per cent in January, 4.1 per cent in February and 3.1 per cent in March, but is down 0.4 per cent so far this month.

At the top of investors’ radar screen this week will be the government’s closely watched monthly jobs report for April, to be released on Friday. Jobs growth in March slowed to 120,000, the smallest increase since October, disappointing investors even though the unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 8.2 per cent.

Ahead of the government’s payrolls report, investors will be watching the ADP Employment Report due on Wednesday and weekly jobless data on Thursday for signs of whether the States’ labour market is gaining momentum.