Wall Street gets back to work in the coming week after a holiday hiatus, and stocks could get a lift as traders await Friday's December jobs report.
Stocks started the new year on a weak note, with Thursday's big downdraft and Friday's sluggish performance amid low participation on trading desks because of the New Year holiday and a major snowstorm.
Friday's jobs report is the big event of the week ahead, but it is also a very big week for the Fed.
The Senate on Monday is expected to give final approval to Janet Yellen as Fed chairman, replacing Ben Bernanke when his term ends later this month. Yellen, now Fed vice chair, is seen as dovish and likely to follow the same policy course as Bernanke.
Motorola Moto X smartphones being assembled at the Flextronics International factory in Fort Worth, Texas.Mike Fuentes | Bloomberg | Getty Images
There are also the minutes of the Fed's last meeting Wednesday afternoon and a handful of Fed speakers, including outspoken hawk Kansas City Fed President Esther George on Thursday and the more dovish San Francisco Fed President John Williams on Tuesday. There is also a trickle of earnings reports, including Alcoa on Thursday.
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Economists expect to see slightly fewer jobs added than the 203,000 in November and a steady unemployment rate of 7 percent. The employment report will be an important measure of the momentum that has been showing up in recent economic data, including manufacturing orders and consumer spending.
"All the leading indicators for jobs are pretty solid, and there's nothing out there that suggest there should be any weakening for jobs in December," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.