(New-Home Sales Winners & Losers article updated with stock price movements.)
) -- Homebuilder stocks pushed higher Wednesday afternoon despite the latest round of far-from-stellar data on the housing market.
Sales of newly-built homes
fell 12.4% in July to a seasonally adjusted record-low annual sales pace of 276,000
, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The figure came in well below expectations for a rate of 334,000 after a
downwardly revised rate of 315,000 units sold in June
The report came a day after the National Association of Realtors said existing-home sales
plummeted 27.2% in July
to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.83 million units. The figure was far worse than the expected rate of 4.72 million units after
a downwardly revised rate of 5.26 million in June
"The data from the housing sector is pretty awful," ConvergEx Group chief market strategist Nicholas Colas told
. "I guess the best thing you can say is that the market figured that out yesterday so it was braced for today's number."
SPDR S&P Homebuilders
, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the homebuilder sector, closed up by 3.2% while the
iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction
Leading the sector higher were shares of
(TOL - Get Report)
, which jumped 7.8% and 5.8%, respectively. Toll Brothers said early Wednesday it
returned to profitability
for the first time since 2007.
(BZH - Get Report)
closed up 4.9%, Meritage
(MTH - Get Report)
(DHI - Get Report)
(KBH - Get Report)
Record-low and near-record-low
have failed to spark demand for housing in recent months, but clearly had an effect on homeowners looking to lower their monthly payments through refinancing.
Mortgage applications rose 4.9% in the week ended Aug 20
, the Mortgage Bankers Association said early Wednesday. It was the fourth straight week-over-week increase, led by a 5.7% jump in refinance applications, while loan applications for home purchases edged up by 0.6%.