Caution Prevails on Wall Street

In the week ahead on Wall Street, investors will have the opportunity to peruse minutes of the Federal Reserve’s April meeting and draw their own conclusions as to how the central bankers view a number of issues that will impact the economy moving forward. Investors will also no doubt be keeping a close eye on the status of the dollar, which many fear may be losing ground as the international trade currency of choice. With all these concerns, investors have been shifting focus to areas of the market considered to be more defensive, such as utilities, health care and consumer discretionary stock.

Monday sees some major retailers release their earnings reports, including J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) and Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW). The National Association of Homebuilders will be presenting May’s housing market index, which is expected to remain unmoved at 16. Reports on April’s housing starts and building permits are due on Tuesday morning. Earnings from Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), Home Depot (NYSE: HD), and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) are also due on Tuesday. The minutes of the Federal Reserve’s April meeting are due on Wednesday. Target (NYSE: TGT) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ). Statistics on claims for jobless benefits are due on Thursday, as well as the Philadelphia Fed’s index for May and the National Association of Realtors existing home sales for April. Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD) will report results on Thursday. Friday sees Chinese e-commerce company Dangdang (NYSE: DANG) report its first-quarter results following its entry into US markets in December.