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Sector Snap: Many homebuilders trading lower

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Shares of many homebuilders traded lower Wednesday after a government report showed that U.S. sales of new homes fell slightly in October and were slower than initially thought a month earlier.

New-home sales dipped 0.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 368,000, according to the Commerce Department. That's down marginally from the 369,000 pace in September, which was revised lower from an initially reported 389,000.

The government said Superstorm Sandy had a minimal effect on the housing data because it made landfall in the final days of the month. Still, the storm disrupted business activity from North Carolina to Maine.

While the pace of new home sales is 17 percent higher than a year ago, the revised sales figures indicate that demand for single-family homes is only slowly picking up, not accelerating, as the data previously showed, said HIS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport.

"It also indicated that builders may have jumped the gun a little by accelerating the pace of construction of single-family homes," he added.

Persistently low mortgage interest rates and a limited supply of homes in many markets have helped drive sales of new and previously occupied homes this year. The increased demand for homes also helped fuel new home construction.

Last month builders started construction on the most homes and apartments since July 2008. Work began on new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000, up 3.6 percent from September.

Even so, many economists say a full housing recovery is at least a couple of years away.

Here's how homebuilder shares traded Wednesday afternoon:

PulteGroup Inc. fell 27 cents to $16.84.

D.R. Horton Inc. fell 21 cents to $19.37.

Lennar Corp. slid 52 cents to $38.20.

KB Home rose 4 cents to $14.65.

Toll Brothers Inc. lost 14 cents to $31.97.

Beazer Homes USA Inc. gained 30 cents to $14.80.

Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. fell 10 cents to $5.39.

Ryland Group Inc. slid 38 cents to $33.34.

Meritage Homes Corp. fell 22 cents to $35.59.

Standard Pacific Corp. dipped 11 cents to $6.79.

MDC Holdings Inc. rose 5 cents to $35.

M/I Homes Inc. fell 3 cents to $22.33.

NVR Inc. rose 5 cents to $894.