Banking woes, rising debt levels, and unemployment will put consumers in greater trouble, economists say.
Prices below $4 a gallon could help carmakers and back-to-school retailers.
Uncertainty over oil prices is a factor in Wall Street edginess.
Banks raise capital; senators look at a bipartisan mortgage-rescue package.
A bipartisan accord in the House calls for a $150 billion spending plan, including significant tax rebates. But senators may want add-ons.
Democrats and Republicans are anxious to get $300 to $1,200 in tax-rebate checks to wage earners by spring.
The government aims for more spending, but in the past many saved their checks.