Stocks Headed For Fourth Week Of Gains Despite Thursday Pullback

How strong has the stock market's recent rally been? Strong enough that Thursday's 42 point drop in the Dow and a eight point loss for the S&P 500 represented the market's biggest decline in more than two weeks. Barring a major Friday selloff, the major averages are headed for a fourth consecutive week of gains.

Weak economic data was one reason for yesterday's negative performance by the major averages, and investors will get to look at two more reports today. The University of Michigan is out with its preliminary May consumer sentiment index at 9:55 a.m. ET, expected to rise to 78.3 from the final May reading of 76.4. At 10 a.m. ET, the Conference Board's Index of Leading Economic Indicators is seen gaining 0.3 percent for April compared to a March drop of 0.1 percent.

There are no corporate earnings of note on today's calendar.

Applied Materials (AMAT) is among our stocks to watch this morning, with the semiconductor manufacturing equipment maker reporting fiscal second quarter profit of $0.16 per share, excluding certain items, three cents above estimates. Revenues were also above consensus, with demand for smartphone chips helping offset a decline in PC sales.

Dell (DELL) reported first quarter profit of $0.21 per share, excluding certain items, 14 cents below estimates, though revenue exceeded forecasts. The computer maker is not providing guidance for the current quarter as it deals with CEO Michael Dell's proposed buyout bid and competing offers.

J.C. Penney (JCP) lost $1.31 per share for the first quarter, wider than the $0.89 per share loss analysts were expecting. Revenues were short of estimates as well, with same-store sales falling 16.6 percent during the quarter. The retailer attributes the poor results to former CEO Ron Johnson's turnaround strategies.

Autodesk (ADSK) reported first quarter profit of $0.42 per share, three cents below estimates, with revenues falling short of analyst projections as well. Its current quarter guidance for both earnings and revenues also fall below Street consensus as the software maker cuts its full year outlook. CEO Carl Bass pointed to a mixed global economy as a significant weight on first quarter results.

Nordstrom (JWN) earned $0.73 per share for the first quarter, missing estimates by three cents, with revenues below estimates as well. The retailer saw weaker than expected sales as well as higher expenses. Nordstrom also cut its full year sales outlook.

Brocade Communications (BRCD) reported fiscal second quarter profit of $0.17 per share, excluding certain items, two cents above estimates. The maker of data storage products did report revenue that matched forecast, but it had lowered its revenue outlook earlier this month.

Compuware (CPWR) has declared its first dividend, paying 12-1/2 cents per share on June 19 to shareholders of record on June 5.

Northrop Grumman (NOC) has announced an addition of $4 billion to its stock buyback program, with the defense contractor planning to buy back 25 percent of its outstanding shares by the end of 2015, depending on market conditions.

Kansas City Southern (KSU) will replace Dean Foods (DF) in the S&P 500 at the close of trading on May 23. That follows Dean's spinoff of its WhiteWave and Morningstar Foods units. Dean Foods and WhiteWave will both be added to the S&P MidCap 400.

Activision Blizzard (ATVI) and Electronic Arts (EA) could move after NPD reported a 25 percent drop in videogame sales in April.

Sprint (S) is in the news once again, with Dish Network (DISH) asking the FCC to suspend its review of SoftBank's bid for Sprint. Dish points to reported attempts by the Japanese company to thwart Dish's bid for Sprint by asking Wall Street banks not to finance its offer.