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Real estate, consumer data on docket

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Today's calendar focuses on residential real estate, consumer confidence, and corporate earnings.

The Case-Shiller index of February home prices is due at 9 a.m. ET. Economists expect a gain of 8.7 percent, up from 8.1 percent the previous month. A strong or weak number could affect homebuilder stocks and related companies.

The Chicago purchasing managers index follows at 9:45 a.m. ET and is expected to come in at 52, down from 52.4 in March. The index seldom affects broader sentiment because of its limited geographic focus, but it does provide clues on the strength of the economy. Readings above 50 reflect expansion.

The Commerce Department will report April consumer confidence at 10 a.m. ET. Economists project a reading of 61 versus 59.7 in March.

Companies reporting earnings today include pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer, health insurer Aetna, brewer Anheuser-Busch Imbev, NYSE Euronext, and U.S. Steel.

Attention may turn to the global economy after today's session, with China and Europe scheduled to report manufacturing data in the following overnight session.

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