European markets are called to open lower this morning.
Asian stocks dropped, with the regional benchmark index set for its biggest decline since March 15, as Fitch Ratings cut Greece’s credit rating and Standard & Poor’s said Italy’s rating was at risk, deepening concern over Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.
Investors have taken the old Wall Street adage of “Sell in May, then go away” to heart this year, and the stock market’ slump is likely to persist during the last week of the month.
The Dow, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have each lost more than 2% during the past three weeks, pressured by the latest round of economic and corporate news, which are suggesting that the economic recovery may be slowing.
Last week, reports on housing starts and existing home sales came in weaker than expected, and regional manufacturing activity slowed to the lowest level since October.
“The economy hit a soft patch entering the second quarter, and the economic reports are showing this,” said Patrick Newport, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. “We are expecting more soft numbers in the upcoming week.”
One of those numbers includes the government’ second reading on first-quarter GDP. Economists are expecting economic growth to be revised to 2%, up from the initial estimate of 1.8%, but that’ still lackluster, Newport said.
Investors are also getting bad news from Corporate America. While a majority of companies are beating earnings expectations, they are pairing the results with dour outlooks.
For example, Hewlett-Packard lowered its revenue forecast for this year because of weak PC sales.Wal-Mart, Target and Gap were also cautious in their outlooks.
“Retailers in particular are concerned that higher gasoline prices are putting a constrain on consumer finances,” said Peter Tuz, president at Chase Investment Counsel, adding that investors will continue to parse through earnings reports next week for company outlooks.
Reports are due from 14 members of the S&P 500, including Campbell Soup, Costco, and Polo Ralph Lauren
“Barring any surprising positive news on the economy or in earnings, it looks like investors will follow the old saying of ‘Sell in May, then go away,’” Tuz said.
Events this week
Monday: Campbell Soup (CPB, Fortune 500) and Krispy Kreme (KKD) are on tap to report quarterly earnings before the bell.
There are no scheduled economic reports.
Tuesday: The new-home sales index for April from the Census Bureau is due at shortly after the opening bell.
The index is expected to have remained unchanged from the previous month at an annual rate of 300,000 units.
Wednesday: Before the market opens, earnings are due from Costco (COST, Fortune 500), Polo Ralph Lauren (RL, Fortune 500) and luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers (TOL).
A report on durable orders in April is also out in the morning.
Thursday: Wall Street will get a second reading on the U.S.’ first-quarter gross domestic product. Economists expect economic growth to be revised to 2%, up from the initial estimate of 1.8%.
The weekly report on people filing for initial jobless claims is also due in the morning. Claims are expected to have fallen to 400,000 in the latest week, from 409,000 the previous week.
Also on tap: quarterly financial results from Tiffany & Co. and Sony.
Friday: Before the start of trading, investors will get data on personal income and spending for April. Economists expect income edged up 0.4% last month, while spending increased 0.5%.
Shortly after the opening bell, the University of Michigan will put out its final reading on consumer sentiment in May. Economists
expect the figure to remain unchanged at 72.4.
National Association of Realtors is expected to show a 1.8% decline in pending home sales for the month of March.