Equity markets may be on the dull side next week, with a light earnings calendar and mostly minor economic data, but some traders see things heating up elsewhere. "I think what's most interesting is that the rally in the markets has been in the face of rising oil prices," says Randy Diamond, sales trader at Miller Tabak, referring to oil's recent climb to $58 a barrel. "Keep an eye on steel production, which has been at its lowest level since October 2003." And don't forget gold, which has lately traded around $440 an ounce. "It's highly unusual to see a positive correlation between strength in the dollar and strength in gold," Diamond says. "The feeling is, with the concerns in Europe with the EU situation unsettled, the yen out of favor and the dollar overextended due to concerns about the American economy, gold has become the currency of choice." The commodities will indeed be worth watching this week, what with the relative inaction elsewhere. "Except for some housing sales figures, there's not a lot of economic data next week to jump-start the market," says Paul Mendelsohn, strategist at Windham Financial. "And with a Fed meeting -- and the end of the first half -- on the horizon, it should be a relatively low-volume, quiet week." Leading indicators for May arrive at 10 a.m. EDT Monday. The consensus expectation is for a 0.5% drop, down from the previous month's minus 0.2%. Mutual fund managers will also be arriving in Chicago early next week for the annual Morningstar meeting. Notable speakers should include Dodge & Cox's Harry Hagey, AllianceBernstein's Lew Sanders and Pimco's Bill Gross, who will surely address why he feels 10-year Treasury yields may be stuck in the 3% to 4.5% range for a while.
Investors will have to wait until Thursday for the next bit of economic data to guide them. Initial jobless claims and existing-home sales for May will be released on Thursday morning. Home sales are expected to remain hot at 7.2 million, up from 7.18 in April. New-home sales and durable-goods orders for May will be reported on Friday morning. Analysts are looking for durable orders to rise 3% for the month, compared with a 1.9% gain in April. On the earnings front, the summer doldrums truly set in next week. On Monday, companies set to report quarterly earnings include CarMax ( KMX), furniture manufacturer Steelcase ( SCS) and Arrow International ( ARRO). Tuesday promises a bit more intrigue with a mix of sector leaders taking the stage. Among the companies set to report are Darden Restaurants ( DRI - Get Report), Jabil Circuit ( JBL - Get Report) and Kroger ( KR - Get Report). Lennar ( LEN - Get Report) is due to release earnings on Tuesday as well. Analysts are looking for the homebuilder to earn $1.28 a share, up from $1.22 last year, on revenue of $2.74 billion. Bed Bath and Beyond ( BBBY - Get Report) and another office furniture maker, Herman Miller ( MLHR - Get Report), will also be reporting on Wednesday. Wednesday's highlight will surely come from Morgan Stanley ( MWD). The big investment bank is due to post its first numbers since CEO Phil Purcell stepped down, as well as the first major Wall Street earnings since Goldman Sachs ( GS - Get Report) disappointed last week. Analysts estimate Morgan's fiscal second-quarter per-share earnings will be 92 cents, down from $1.10 last year, on revenue of $5.67 billion. A few major names take the spotlight on Thursday, including Cognos ( COGN), Omnivision ( OVTI), Tektronix ( TEK) and Tibco ( TIBX). FedEx ( FDX - Get Report) should report second-quarter earnings next Friday. Analysts expect the overnight shipper to post quarterly earnings of $1.48, up from $1.33 last year, on $7.84 billion in sales. And now this: According to the Stock Trader's Almanac, the week following the June options expiration has been down 13 of the past 15 years -- the exceptions being 1995 and 1998. Stay tuned.