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Housing Sector Falls on Latest Reports

It's the midway point of a housing report trifecta this week and investors are apparently into the mood to pummel the housing sector in response.

Yesterday, the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller National Home Price index said that home prices plummeted a record 19.1% in the first quarter. Today, the National Association of Realtors reported that while existing home sales grew 2% in April, home prices continued to fall and unsold home inventory grew. Tomorrow morning, the Commerce Department will weigh in with their new home sales figures.

A quick survey of housing-related stocks shows that most were hurting in the afternoon.

Home-improvement retailers took the brunt of investors' frustrations today. Almost all of the major stocks in the sector were changing hands in negative territory, led by Sherwin-Williams' (SHW) 3.7% drop to $53.22. Lowe's (LOW) was changing hands at $19.71, or down 33 cents, while rival Home Depot (HD) was down 38 cents at $23.42.

On the eve of the new home-sales report, homebuilder shares were mixed by the post-noon period, though many of the big names were toiling below yesterday's closing prices. Centex (CTX) was coming in at $9.31, gaining 1% on the day by the afternoon. Pulte Homes (PHM) was down by early afternoon, but trading in positive territory late, changing hands at $9.66 or up 5 cents. But Toll Brothers (TOL) was at $18.32, down 23 cents or 1.24%. Lennar (LEN) saw its shares give up 16 cents, or 1.5%, by the afternoon.

Some of the biggest names in the home-furnishings group were also in the red. Masco (MAS) was changing hands down 30 cents, or nearly 3%. Neither Ethan Allen (ETH) nor Knoll (KNL) were fairing much better, giving up 4 cents and 11 cents respectively since yesterday's close.

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