Investors are likely to focus on major economic data to be released during the week to gauge the strength of recovery in the world’s largest economy. The main focus will be housing and economic activity, while rising Middle East tensions are expected to weigh on markets.
The S&P/CaseShiller house price index for the month of December will be released before the markets open on Tuesday. The index is expected to show that house prices continued to decline at 2.4 percent compared to 1.6 percent down in the previous month.
The U.S. Conference Board will release its consumer confidence index for the month of February after the markets open. The index is expected to show a reading of 63.00 compared to 60.60 in the previous month.
Richmond Manufacturing Index is expected to edge lower to 17.00 from 18.00 of previous month.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is due to report the sales of previously occupied homes before market opens on Wednesday. Economists are forecasting that existing home sales in January may slightly decline to 5.23 million from 5.28 million in December.
Existing home sales, which measure the annualized number of existing residential buildings that were sold during the previous month, rose to 5.28 million in December despite bad weather as sellers cut prices.
The Commerce Department will release durable goods orders index for the month of January before markets open on Thursday, where economists expect new orders for manufactured durable goods in Janaury to gain by 3.0 percent compared to a 2.3 percent decline in December. Core durable goods orders, excluding transportation, are expected to increase 0.6 percent in Janaury.
Meanwhile, weekly jobs report is expected to show that the initial jobless claims edged lower to 405,000 for the week ended Feb 19 against 410,000 of the previous week.
New home sales data for the month of Janaury is due to be released after the markets open on Thursday. Economists have forecast sales of new single-family houses to be 310,000 for January against 329,000 in the previous month.
The Commerce Department will release the second estimate for Gross Domestic Product for the fourth quarter of 2010 before markets open on Friday, where the GDP estimate is expected to be revised slightly higher to show that the U.S. economy expanded at an annualized rate of 3.3 percent during the October-December period, compared with earlier estimation of 3.2 percent.
Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for February may rise to 75.4 from a preliminary reading of 75.1, and 74.2 at the end of January.