Is this a sucker's rally or the real thing?


The stock market soaks up the national mood like a sponge, but investor sentiment can change on a dime.

As investors approach next week, there will be plenty for them to consider. Earnings are due from a variety of companies ranging from drug retailer Walgreens (WAG) to firearms company Smith & Wesson (SWHC) to software giant Oracle (ORCL) and retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY). Then there's the ongoing political turmoil in North Korea, Iran and Nigeria.

For months, depression and despondency ruled the markets, pushing down shares of even well-run companies gaining market share. But that's all changed now as improving economic data has given Wall Street optimism that the economy will begin turning around in September. While positive sentiment has boosted the market by 40 percent since hitting a 12-year low in March, this week didn't prove or disprove that the good times are coming back.