NEW YORK (
) -- The major equity indexes dug a big hole for themselves on Monday if they're going to break their streak of three straight weeks of declines as
fueled a deep sell-off.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
posted a triple-digit loss to finish at its lowest level since April 19. The blue-chip index has now fallen in five of the past seven sessions, and its year-to-date gain sits at 7% with May's trading responsible for a 3.4% pullback from 2011 highs in late April.
First-quarter earnings season is enduring a semi-shaky ending. According to data from
, 68% of the 475 companies in the S&P 500 that had reported their quarterly results as of May 20 beat the average analysts' view. That's above the long-term percentage of 62% since 1994, but below 74% average the market has seen in the past four quarters.
In addition, the aggregate beat sits at 6% for the first quarter, which is again above a long-term average of 2%, but below the 9% pace set in the past year.
Tuesday's calendar features four S&P 500 components led by semiconductor capital equipment giant
. Applied Materials has topped the consensus profit view in four straight quarters and the average estimate of analysts polled by
is for earnings of 37 cents a share in the company's fiscal second quarter ended in April on revenue of $2.77 billion.
Wall Street has some skepticism about the stock ahead of the report with 13 of the 21 analysts covering the shares at either hold (11) or underperform (2) with the 12-month median price target sitting at $17. The stock is flat since the start of 2011, and has pulled back 19% since hitting a 52-week high of $16.93 on March 3.
Of course, the numbers, which are due after the closing bell, may end up being so much noise as Applied Materials will likely provide more color on its May 4 agreement to acquire
, a $4.9 billion deal that got decent reviews when it was announced but the shares since seen a decline.
The other S&P 500 names on the docket are
Medtronic shares are up 14% so far in 2011, but Wunderlich Securities sees the report as an afterthought since the company is in between CEOs after naming Omar Ishrak of
to take over for William Hawkins. Ishrak joins Medtronic on June 13.
The economic data for Tuesday features new-home sales at 10:00 a.m. ET and durable orders at 8:30 a.m ET; both readings are for April. Economists are expecting April's sales activity for new homes to put the annual rate at 300,000, according to
, and Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at High Frequency Economics is in agreement.
"New home sales are, as far as we know, the weakest major U.S. economic indicator," he wrote in a research note. "They remain close to their all-time low, having dropped about 80% from their peak, and we think it's unlikely that today's
Tuesday's April report will show any improvement."
Durable orders are projected to be down 2%,
said. Excluding transportation, economists are looking for a rise of 0.5%. Other datapoints on Tuesday include weekly chain-store sales numbers, the MBA Mortgage index, and crude inventories.
Finally, in other corporate news,
is scheduled to hold its annual investor conference on Tuesday, while
, the so-called Russian
, is slated to launch its initial public offering on the Nasdaq. The stock priced above range late Monday, and could see buying interest from any momentum players kicking themselves for missing out on
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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