The market suffered its biggest swoon since August last week as Libya descended into chaos and oil prices hit highs not seen for more than two-and-a-half years. With the geopolitical landscape thrown into doubt for the foreseeable future, don't be surprised if stocks come under further selling pressure in the days ahead, says Teddy Weisberg, founder and president of Seaport Securities.
After dropping 2.1% in four sessions, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) stands just 130 points above the psychologically key 12,000 level. A heavy week of economic news and data coupled with increasing anxiety over the Middle East could have investors primed to protect gains.
"There are yellow caution flags flying everywhere right now," Weisberg says. "The investor needs to be careful here because the one thing the markets cannot deal with are unknowns."
Oil prices stabilized Friday after futures jumped nearly 14% in a week, but crude remains close to $100 a barrel on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange (CME). With every $10 jump in oil prices knocking about 0.2% off U.S. GDP, Wall Street is rightfully worried about future corporate earnings.
"Vulnerable to a Sell-Off"
Also coming traders' way in the sessions ahead is a dump of data. In addition to action in the energy markets, Wall Street will contend with reports on personal income and spending, the ISM manufacturing and nonmanufacturing indexes, pending home sales, light-vehicle sales, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's semi-annual report to congress and -- the biggest release of them all -- the monthly employment report on Friday.
"It's probably a time to be a little careful," says Weisberg. "We've had such a big move in the market, and the market is vulnerable to a sell-off. And those people who have been in the market have been looking for an excuse to take some money off the table."
For more on Weisberg's view from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, see the video above.