Stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) have been seesawing all week as unease about corporate profits and falling oil prices further increase concerns that the economy is plagued.

Earnings reports will continue next week and many are worried that the recent rally in stock prices have been caused by pure speculation.  On a positive note, the Commerce Department said that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $26 billion in May, the lowest level in more than nine years.

Consumer sentiment fell to its weakest level since March.  The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumer consumer sentiment index read a 64.6, down from a June reading of 70.8  and a forecast of 70.5.  Job security and erosion of wealth continue to plague the U.S. economy and its consumers believe that relief is not in the near future.

A bit of optimism has emerged in the auto industry as a new General Motors, which exited bankruptcy in record times and has plans to make money and build cars that people want to buy comes to the forefront.  CEO Fritz Henderson said that the company will be able to repay about $59 billion in government loans before the 2015 deadline and is exploring many “outside the box” ideas to revamp the business, such as partnering with eBay (EBAY) to establish an online auction of vehicles.

Prominent economists have stated that the U.S. economy will expand faster than previously expected in the second half of this year and through 2010 as signs of stability in the housing markets, improving consumer confidence and and declines in auto sales are reinforcing forecasts for gains in consumer purchases, state Shobhana Chandra and Alex Tanzi for Bloomberg.

Crude oil continued its volatility as prices fell below $60/barrel.  Investors don’t know where black gold is heading as global appetite remains and corporate earnings reports remain unclear.  The news sent the United States Oil Fund (USO) down 2.6% in morning trading.

Overall all three major U.S. indexes are in negative territory with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down nearly 1%, the S&P 500 down 1% and the Nasdaq down 0.8%.

For more stories on consumer sentiment, visit our retail category.

Kevin Grewal contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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