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Big week ahead on Wall Street

 One year after Lehman Brothers, the stock market is right back where it was. Beyond the anniversary, reports on the consumer loom.
  NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Reports of the stock rally's demise have been greatly exaggerated, with September so far

managing to eschew a much-predicted selloff. A torrent of economic news this week could turn the tide.

On the economic front, the consumer will remain front and center: Reports are due on inflation, retail sales, housing and jobless claims.

These reports are key as investors look for signs that the consumer -- hit by rising joblessness, lost wealth and tighter credit -- is starting to recover.

Consumer spending fuels two-thirds of economic growth. Government stimulus and a period of inventory building are expected to help the economy for the next few quarters, but experts say the U.S. is at risk for a double-dip recession by this time next year if spending doesn't return.

"The week is likely to be a competition between better economic news for August and the start of the quarterly pre-announcement period," said John Canally, Economist at LPL Financial.

Investors will also keep an eye this week on the dollar, which is sitting near a one-year low versus the euro and nine-month low against the yen. The falling dollar has helped push the price of gold to a record high of $1006.50. Meanwhile, crude oil prices are back around $69 a barrel.

The news this week will also compete for investor focus with the one-year anniversary of one of the grimmest periods in Wall Street history: the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

One-year later: Last September, the collapse of Lehman and shotgun wedding buyout of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America turned a recession into a full-blown economic crisis on a level not seen since the 1930s.

Through extraordinary efforts on the part of the U.S. government and central bankers and financial ministers around the world, a so-called second Great Depression was avoided.

Relief that the crisis was contained -- combined with massive amounts of fiscal and monetary stimulus -- have enabled stocks to recover over the past six months.

Since bottoming in March at 12-year lows, the S&P 500 has rallied 54% and the Dow 47%. The Nasdaq bottomed at a six-year low and has gained 64%.

(powered by: CNN)

 

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