By Drew FitzGerald Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Most big U.S. retailers will report quarterly earnings next week, recapping a period of slightly higher spending despite a recent slide in consumer confidence. Data on July housing starts and permits will also show whether a crippled construction industry is on the mend or still has more ground to cover. Big Box Stores Post Quarterly Earnings U.S. retail heavyweight Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) will report quarterly earnings Tuesday, followed by Target Corp. (TGT) and Sears Holding Corp. (SHLD) later in the week. Apparel retailers including TJX Cos. (TJX), Limited Brands Inc. (LTD) and Gap Inc. (GPS) will also weigh in. Most retailers have posted healthy metrics through July even as high gasoline prices force consumers to pare their spending. Iowa Straw Poll To Highlight GOP Frontrunner Republican presidential candidates are ramping up campaign events ahead of Saturday's straw poll in Ames, Iowa. The survey is anyone's to win among a crowded field, especially after organizers opted to allow write-in candidates. Texas Gov. Rick Perry will also formally announce his candidacy that day, leading some Iowa Republicans to grumble he is sucking the air out of their state's headline political event. Housing Starts, Industrial Production The U.S. government on Tuesday releases data on new housing starts and building permits for July. Construction has been picking up lately, especially in the volatile multifamily sector, but many economists say building activity remains well below healthy levels. Construction of homes and apartments jumped 15% in June from the prior month, while building permits, a gauge of planned future construction, increased 2.5%. Dodgers Move To Sell Media Rights Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt on Tuesday will ask a Delaware bankruptcy court for permission to hire an investment bank to market the team's media rights. News Corp.'s (NWS, NWSA) Fox Sports, the current holder of those rights, is opposing the request. News Corp. is the parent company of Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of this newswire. Lehman To Seek Cut In State Street's Claim Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEHMQ) on Wednesday will ask the New York bankruptcy court to sign off on a settlement with State Street Bank & Trust Co. (STT) that would allow the collapsed investment bank to cut the claim against it by more than a third. Wisconsin Democrats Face Recall Challenge Two Democratic Wisconsin state senators will face recall elections on Tuesday, one week after two of their GOP counterparts lost to Democrats who had challenged their support of a controversial collective-bargaining law. Regardless of the outcome, Democrats this week fell one seat short of a majority in Wisconsin's Senate, making a legislative repeal of the law unlikely. Forest Labs Shareholders To Weigh Icahn Challenge Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX) holds its much-awaited shareholder meeting Thursday as billionaire investor Carl Icahn steps up his campaign to replace four of its boardmembers. Icahn has criticized the drug maker's governance and alleged lack of succession planning for Chief Executive Howard Solomon. The company maintains that it has a detailed succession plan. Proxy-advisory firms ISS and Egan-Jones have sided with Forest Labs. Merkel, Sarkozy To Discuss Euro Zone Governance French President Nicolas Sarkozy is scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday to discuss proposals to strengthen the euro zone's economic governance, according to the French presidency. The latest call for a long-term plan comes amid spreading fears over the Continent's ability to extricate itself from the growing sovereign-debt crisis. Biden To Visit China Wednesday Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in China on Wednesday for an offical visit. The event could prompt Chinese officials to allow the yuan to trade within a more relaxed band this week, as they typically do in the days leading up to high-profile bilateral meetings with the U.S. China's currency has already set fresh highs this week. -By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909; Andrew.FitzGerald@dowjones.com --Marie Beaudette and Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this report.