Wall St turns the volume back up

WALL Street&rsquo;s mettle will be tested this week as traders return from summer vacations to resurfacing signs of weakness after a six-month rally for stocks.<br /><br />Increased volume last week has investors keen to see what direction the market will take when it opens tomorrow after the long Labor Day holiday weekend. So far, pullbacks have been viewed as buying opportunities by those eager to get a foothold into the market. With only second-tier economic data on tap this week and slim earnings releases until the new reporting season, stocks will be relying on those buying opportunities to move higher.<br /><br />Last week, the S&amp;P lost 1.2 per cent, the Dow fell 1.1 per cent, while the Nasdaq was off 0.5 per cent.<br /><br />September has historically been one of the nastiest months of the year, a notoriety solidified last year by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the takeover of Merrill Lynch and the bailout of American International Group.<br /><br />Analysts point out that autumn&rsquo;s pattern of declines is well known and could already be priced into the market. <br /><br />Healthcare stocks will be in focus with President Barack Obama set to address a rare joint session of Congress on Wednesday in an effort to reinvigorate his push for healthcare reform.<br /><br />The insurance industry strongly objects to a proposed government-run health insurance plan and investors have fretted over what the public option will mean for corporate profits.<br /><br />As popularity for the plan has waned, investors have become less nervous about what the corporate fallout will be. If Obama is able to revitalise the debate and sway public opinion, insurance and other related stocks could face a sell off.<br /><br />Wall Street faces a lighter week on economic data &ndash; reports on initial weekly jobless claims and preliminary September consumer sentiment are readily available.