Just enough government data and earnings reports are on the schedule in the coming week to help the major averages build on the strength of the previous five sessions or give back some of the recent gains.

On Thursday, the April

durable goods orders will be released, followed Friday by the second print of

gross domestic product for the first quarter. Additionally, April

new-home sales data are on the schedule.

The bulk of earnings season is in the rearview mirror, but several influential retailers remain, including


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Dow component

Home Depot

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Quarterly reports from medical technology company


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, networking outfit


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and doughnut seller

Krispy Kreme


are also due.

Regardless of the eventual impact of corporate and economic news, one observer believes technical factors could figure heavily in the next five sessions.

Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist of Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum, said the major averages have already broken through key resistance lines, or levels at which investors would be tempted to start selling. For the Dow, that resistance mark was at 10,300, he said. On the

Nasdaq, it was between 1725 and 1740, and on the

S&P 500, it was 1090 to 1100.

Last week, the Nasdaq jumped almost 9% to close Friday at 1741. The S&P 500 gained more than 4% to 1107, and the Dow rose 4% to 10,353. The Nasdaq had its best week in more than a year, while the S&P and the Dow had their strongest showings since September.

Compared with last week's rally, "next week may bring a different story," Hyman said. "We're going into a dry season in earnings, so any catalysts will not be there to pump stocks up. We are sort of light on economic numbers. A lot of it is going to be dependent upon the technicals of the market. We are struggling to maintain ourselves above three key resistance lines where the market broke down a few weeks ago."

The Nasdaq's recent gains might not stick, he said, because the good first-quarter earnings news from the technology arena was mostly company-specific rather than positive for an entire sector.



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said that they reached their goals by cutting costs and taking market share away," he pointed out. "We've got earnings that indicate that the strong are getting stronger, but that means more problems for other stocks."

The Economics of It

If the data reveal more evidence of an economy regaining its health, even by way of a muted recovery, that might be enough to deter investors from selling stocks and taking profits, said Miller Tabak strategist Peter Boockvar.

"Now that earnings season is winding down, and assuming that the economic data stay on pace, there's very little reason for downside," he said.

The durable goods report will be among the highlights in the coming week, as it will provide some insight on business spending, which has been a weaker area of the economy. Consensus estimates call for orders to rise 0.4%, compared with a 0.5% decline the previous month, but the report tends to be volatile, and individual forecasts are all over the map.

For example, Salomon Smith Barney economist Peter D'Antonio is expecting a 9% increase overall, mostly due to strength in transportation orders, but he's also expecting a "nice increase" in nondefense capital goods spending, excluding aircraft. Meanwhile, Lehman Brothers economist Ethan Harris said he's expecting a flat reading overall on the report, with some weakness in nondefense capital goods orders. "The consumer continues to spend, we've seen a turn in inventories, but the business sector doesn't seem to want to get going," Harris said.

The other big numbers will come from the gross domestic product report. Despite slight changes in many of the components of first-quarter GDP since the last reading, the revised number isn't expected to budge. According to the consensus estimate, analysts expect the revised GDP data to show 5.8% growth for the first quarter, in line with the last report.

"There were a lot of offsetting revisions," D'Antonio said. "Consumption might be revised slightly down, but investment in structures is up. Government spending will be revised down, and trade will be revised up. Qualitatively, it's going to be the same story before and after. It's predominantly about inventories."

New-home sales are expected to rise to 883,000 from 878,000 in March, reflecting continued strength in the housing sector. "It's still a robust housing market, but it's not in the stratosphere," said Harris. April leading indicators and

weekly jobless claims are also released next week.

Wild Card

One potential catalyst for more stock market gains might be a settlement between the New York state attorney general's office and

Merrill Lynch


, Hyman said. He indicated, as have other observers, that a deal could help to start restoring investor confidence in the Wall Street establishment.

Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney general, is investigating several firms for alleged conflicts of interest between their research and investment banking departments. So far he's released the most damaging evidence against Merrill, emails suggesting the company's analysts were voicing serious doubts about the worthiness of stocks they were recommending to investors.

Spitzer agreed last week to again allow for another week of negotiations with Merrill. Some believe that Merrill presented Spitzer with a settlement two weeks ago that meets most of his demands.