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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 ( -- 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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