Market Insider

Tuesday look-ahead: Markets watching housing starts

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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The holiday-shortened week on Tuesday includes housing starts, with Wall Street looking to see if recent signs of softening bode anything longer term for the sector.

"The most telling news is tomorrow with housing starts," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist for U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "Housing has lost some steam of late, which may be a function of higher mortgage rates. But we expect the housing recovery is still occurring."

The report will offer "one more nice data point as to how healthy the economy really is and where it might be going," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade.

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Tuesday will also likely bring reduced trading volume, especially in the afternoon, as traders depart for the Thanksgiving holiday, which will have the market closed on Thursday and wrapping up early the next day.

"A lot of traders are in a bit of a tough spot; people don't like to short the market ahead of the holidays," said Kinahan, who noted security plays Monday afternoon, such as the 4.3 percent rise in the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, a measure of investor uncertainty. "Maybe it's because people are heading out and want some protection."

The Dow and rose to intraday records Monday, and the S&P 500 surpassed 4,000 for the first time since September 2000. But the positive momentum lost steam as the day wore on, with stocks finishing little changed. The Dow managing to rise to another record finish.

"Equities are likely to trade sideways with an upward bias into the new year. We do see modest economic growth to fuel earnings in the new year," said Sandven. Still, "a pullback is warranted," he said, pointing out that the S&P 500 is up 26 percent on the year.

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A handful of companies report earnings Tuesady. Eaton Vance, Hormel Foods, Pall Corp., Tiffany, Barnes & Noble and Chico's FAS are among the companies that will report before the bell, while Analog Devices, Hewlett-Packard and TiVo report after the close.

Beyond housing starts, economic data to be released Tuesday morning include building permits, the Case-Shiller and FHFA home price indexes, and consumer confidence for November at 10 a.m.

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson