Weary traders are hoping for smooth sailing in the coming week -- especially on the inflation-data front -- as Memorial Day and summer approaches.

"The market needs to pick a direction," says Larry Perruzzi, equity trader at Boston Company Asset Management. "The longer the market whipsaws around over inflation concerns, the more people will move to the sidelines for the summer."

Last week, a stronger-than-expected consumer price index sent the markets reeling, as traders increasingly fretted about the potential of further rate hikes from the

Federal Reserve


"The big selloff last week has caused investors to seriously readjust their expectations," says Edgar Peters, chief investment officer at Pan Agora. "Going forward, we will surely see a step-up in volatility."

Luckily, fatigued investors will not have to agonize over the release of any economic data -- and the Fed's reaction to it -- on Monday or Tuesday.

On Wednesday, however, April durable goods orders will be announced. Economists expect the orders to be down 0.5%, after growth of 6.5% the prior month.

Also Wednesday, the Commerce Department will release April new-home sales data. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of new-home-sales is expected to drop to 1.15 million from 1.21 million in March.

According to Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer for OakTree Asset Management, Wall Street should respond positively if the numbers are less than expected.

"A weaker durable-goods number would indicate that the economy is slowing, thus relieving some of the pressure on the Fed to slow the economy in an effort to reduce inflation," says Pavlik. "A slowdown in home sales would also be a welcome sign by Wall Street for similar reasons."

The revised first-quarter gross domestic product numbers and the chain deflator will be released Thursday. Economists predict first-quarter growth will jump to 5.8% from a late April estimate of 4.8%. The deflator is expected to remain at 3.3%.

"That's a big revision, primarily due to rising exports and inventories," says Phillip Neuhart, economist at Wachovia. "Any number that comes in shockingly strong from here on in will just flame inflation worries and cool off the market."

Existing-home sales and the April help-wanted index are also among Thursday's economic releases. Existing-home sales are expected to fall to an annualized rate of 6.79 million homes from 6.92 million the prior month. The help-wanted index, which measures the volume of help-wanted advertising in newspapers, is expected to remain steady at 38.

Friday's economic data includes personal spending for April, which is expected to remain at March's 0.6% level. Within the personal spending data is the price deflator, which is expected to rise 0.2%. Randy Diamond, sales trader from Miller Tabak, sees it as the biggest economic number of the week.

"If it's above expectations, like last Wednesday's CPI, the reaction should be negative, depending on the data we see leading up to it," says Diamond. "However, any signs of slowing economic growth, such as last week's Philadelphia Fed report, will allay bad inflation news."

The revised Michigan sentiment survey for May also will be released Friday. Economists expect the gauge to tick up to 79.5 from 79 the prior month.

Earnings Wrap-Up

First-quarter earnings season unofficially comes to a close in the coming week, as the last of the big reports trickle in.

Monday's earnings lineup includes reports from

Campbell Soup

(CPB) - Get Report



(LOW) - Get Report


Tech Data

(TECD) - Get Report


Among Tuesday's reports are

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Report


Sycamore Networks




( BGP).


(MDT) - Get Report

also is slated to release results on Tuesday. According to Thomson First Call, analysts project earnings of 62 cents a share for the quarter, up from 53 cents last year, on $3.08 billion in revenue.

On Wednesday, the market will hear from

Eaton Vance

(EV) - Get Report



( TWAV) and


(TIVO) - Get Report