What Will Influence Stocks This Week?

While the week is starting out with not so much as a peep in the markets thanks to the exchanges being closed in observance of Memorial Day, things are bound to pick up once a series of economic reports hit the wire over the next few days. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) ended flat last week after traders weighed the possibility that the Federal Reserve will begin reducing its monthly bond purchases against a series of positive developments in the housing sector.

The biggest thing to watch on Tuesday is the March result from the Case-Shiller home-price index. Both home prices and sales volumes have continued to improve this year, with the most recent data showing that new-home sales were up last month by 29% over 2012. Consequently, reinforcement from the highly watched Case-Shiller index, which tracks housing values in 20 cities around the country, will likely fuel shares of homebuilders like Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL  ) and other businesses that look to the sector for growth such as Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) .

Both of these companies reported earnings last week that sent their shares higher. For its part, Toll Brothers, the largest luxury homebuilder in the U.S., notched a 36% increase in net contracts signed on a year-over-year basis. Meanwhile, Home Depot increased its top and bottom lines by 18% and 7.4%, respectively, over last year.

To get back to this week, things quiet back down on Wednesday, with no major economic news set for release, but then pick back up on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, the Labor Department reports jobless application figures for the preceding week and the National Association of Realtors provides its estimate of pending home sales for the month of April. And on Friday, data from the Commerce Department will shed light on last month's personal income and consumer spending.

Will these things rattle the market? Yes. Should that matter to you? That's another question entirely. As a general rule, we here at The Motley Fool urge investors to look beyond the daily, weekly, and even monthly fluctuations in stock prices and instead adopt a more long-term investment philosophy that eschews trading. Indeed, this is arguably the only way for the non-institutional investor to meet, if not beat, the broader market.

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