THE WALL STREET WEEK AHEAD

THE five-month stock rally has been built on a string of improving economic data that suggests US corporate profit growth will remain intact, according to some analysts.

Job growth is a big part of that picture. It has lagged most other parts of the US economy, a point frequently raised by Republican presidential hopefuls.

But strategists have been calling for a pullback, especially since indexes are hitting new milestones and the fourth-quarter reporting period is winding down.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 is up for eight of the last nine weeks. Last week, the Dow closed above the 13,000 mark for the first time since May 2008, and the S&P 500 twice closed above 1,370, a closely watched technical resistance level. The Nasdaq at one point crossed the 3,000 level last week and is trading at its highest since 2000.

The government’s jobs report for February, due on Friday, is expected to show non-farm payrolls added 210,000 jobs last month, according to a poll of economists, after gaining 243,000 in January.

Rising oil prices could create some anxiety. Concern about supply disruptions from Middle Eastern oil producers has kept Brent crude oil above $120 a barrel, and analysts said that could affect the stock rally.