The government's non-farm payrolls report at 8:30 a.m. ET dominates today's economic calendar.
Economists expect that 197,000 jobs were added last month, down from 203,000 in November. They also see the unemployment rate remaining at 7 percent. Higher job numbers or a lower unemployment rate would indicate an improving economy. While that's normally positive for stocks, an especially strong report could trigger worries about higher interest rates and hurt sentiment.
Next week's calendar shifts attention to corporate earnings. Monday is quiet, but Tuesday brings monthly retail sales, plus quarterly results from JP Morgan and Wells Fargo in the morning and Linear Technology after the closing bell.
Bank of America follows on Wednesday morning, along with railroad CSX in the afternoon. Producer prices, the New York Federal Reserve's Empire Index, and the national Fed's Beige book survey of economic conditions will also be released.
Thursday features Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, BB&T, and PNC Financial in the morning. Intel, American Express, and Capital One are the big names after the closing bell. Economic releases include initial jobless claims, the producer-price index, the Philadelphia Fed's regional survey and the NAHB's housing report.
Friday's big names include General Electric, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of New York. Housing starts, building permits, industrial production, and consumer sentiment are also on the docket.
More From optionMONSTER