Homebuilder Stocks Take Another Pounding

The sector falls as a trade group reports historical lows in builder confidence levels.
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Homebuilder stocks were slaughtered Monday after a new survey showed builder confidence remained at the lowest level in history in November.

Ongoing mortgage market problems, a huge inventory overhang and low buyer confidence continue to slam the sector.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index showed that November's confidence index was measured at 19, matching the upwardly revised October level. That marks the lowest reading since the index began in January 1985.

"Consistent with what builders said in last month's survey, many are reporting that their special sales incentives are having limited success in terms of getting buyers in the door," said NAHB President Brian Catalde, a homebuilder from El Segundo, Calif.

Catalde placed part of the blame on the media, claiming that negative reports are "dissuading buyers and fueling unrealistic expectations regarding home price discounts."

Homebuilder stocks, already at 52-week lows, were sliding along with the broader market.

Pulte Homes

(PHM) - Get Report

was dropping 6.5% to $12;

Ryland

(RYL)

was falling 5.8% to $24.47; and

Lennar

(LEN) - Get Report

was slipping 7.2% to $17.86.

Regionally, the confidence index results were mixed. The index for the Northeast gained one point to 27, and the index for the West rose three points to 18. But the index for the Midwest declined one point to 13, and the index for the South fell two points to 19.

The NAHB's data come a day ahead of the fiscal fourth-quarter report from

D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get Report

, the country's largest homebuilder by volume. Horton is expected to report a loss of 57 cents a share when it posts results Tuesday morning.

Horton shares were down 5.3% to $11.52 in afternoon trading.

Also on Tuesday, housing starts data will be released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Economists expect starts to fall about 2% from a year ago to 1.175 million.