NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Stocks in the homebuilder sector moved higher Monday morning ahead of key reports on the sector due out later this week.

Data on existing- and new-home sales is set to be on Wednesday and Thursday, but that is an unlikely catalyst to the sector's share price run-up Monday morning, said Michael R. Widner, homebuiler analyst at Stifel Nicolaus.

>>Housing Market to Recover in 2013: Analyst

Shares of

PulteGroup

(PHM) - Get Report

,

Lennar

(LEN) - Get Report

,

D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get Report

and

KB Home

(KBH) - Get Report

were among the morning's gainers. Microcap builder

California Coastal Communities

(CALCQ)

bucked the trend, falling 3.7%, though the loss amounted to just one tenth of a penny.

Widner told

TheStreet

he would be surprised if investors were bidding homebuilder stocks higher ahead of this week's housing data. "There's no reason to believe the numbers will be particularly good," he said, "though I suppose there's no evidence that things have fallen off, in terms of buyer activity, so maybe the risks are weighted to the upside."

The analyst said that the sector's gains Monday more likely reflect market watchers' "positive sentiment of the economy turning a corner in 2011 so investors are taking money off the table of other pro-cyclical sectors like retail and putting it into sectors that haven't really moved yet."

Widner suggested that homebuilder gains may also be a result of "people looking to continue to ride the risk trade," and are "running out of places to put their money."

The homebuilder sector is well off its late-spring peak, when

buyers were rushing to take advantage of federal tax credits for homebuyers, and is only slightly higher than at the beginning of 2010. Whereas other sectors have begun a rebound in earnest, the housing sector continues to lag.

The

SPDR S&P Homebuilders

(XHB) - Get Report

, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the homebuilder sector, remains 62.4% off its peak of $46.08 in early 2006. The

iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction

(ITB) - Get Report

ETF remains 73.9% off its peak of $50.10 in the spring of 2006.

>>Homebuilder Stocks: Behind the Numbers

Existing-home sales for November are expected to have risen to an annualized rate of 4.65 million, after falling 2.2% to a rate of 4.43 million in October.

Sales of newly built homes in November are expected to have increased to a rate of 300,000, after falling 8.1% in October to a rate of 283,000 units.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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