"The key indicator will be the yield on the 10-year," said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS. "Unless the saloon full of Fed speakers says something to move the market, you've got to watch the 10-year."
Earnings from home improvement retailers Home Depot and Lowe's are also expected, as are reports from Campbell Soup and Hewlett-Packard.
The 10-year yield, along with the entire Treasury curve, has been moving lower, reaching 2.47 percent Thursday, the lowest level since July. Some of the decline was due to short covering by investors. Yields, which move lower as bond prices rise, were also moving in lockstep with a global rate move, triggered by expectations the European Central Bank will announce a stimulus plan in June.
Cashin said a big concern for the market is deflation in Europe. However, U.S. CPI and PPI showed a slight pickup in inflation, but the bond market ignored it, and yields moved lower. Data in the past week was mixed, with a 7-year low in jobless claims of 297,000 Thursday. However, disappointing retail sales and unsettled markets added fuel to the argument that the 4-percent growth expected by some economists this quarter may not materialize.
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"If the optimism around housing begins to fade in earnest, that would be another stake in the heart of the growth story for this year," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities. Economists expect the final reading on first-quarter GDP will result in a slight decline in growth, and Stanley said he shaved a point off his second-quarter forecast, taking it to 2.75 percent.
He said he reduced his GDP forecast because his expectations for consumption were lowered, after Tuesday's report that April retail sales edged up just 0.1 percent, well below expectations. It was a mixed bag of data, with the Empire State survey strong but weak home builders sentiment. Yet, housing starts jumped to their highest level in six years on the back of mutli-family housing construction.
"This week, in particular, people have been struck by the fact that the market was able to rally in the face of what was not friendly…PPI, CPI, housing starts. Clearly, the economic story is the big picture story…there are bigger flows taking place and I think people are looking more big picture. It's not a case of come in and look at the data at 8:30 and buy them or sell them," Stanley added.
He said the Fed is unlikely to make much news in the release of its minutes, and it's not likely to lay out anything new about its strategy to exit its extraordinary easing policy, as some traders speculated. The housing data will likely be more important, especially since Fed Chair Janet Yellen pointed it out as an area of concern in her recent Congressional testimony.
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David Ader, chief Treasury strategist at CRT Capital, said the Treasury market could consolidate in the next couple of sessions.
"It seems to me the market is a little bit tired in here. Without a lot of new information—and we're scrambling around for excuses—the squeeze may or may not have run its course, my inclination is we're going to back up a little bit and test the market's resolve," Ader said.