) --

Stocks in the homebuilder sector were mixed but mostly lower Wednesday following the

latest round of discouraging housing data .


(PHM) - Get Report

, recently added to Goldman Sachs' conviction buy list, led the group with a 1.4% gain, while

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Report

and several of the small-cap builders dragged the sector lower.

M/I Homes

(MHO) - Get Report

lost 2.9% while

Comstock Homebuilding

(CHCI) - Get Report

shed 4.2%.


SPDR S&P Homebuilders

(XHB) - Get Report


iShares Dow Jones US Home Construction

(ITB) - Get Report

, exchange-traded funds that track the homebuilder sector, were both trading in negative territory, down 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively.



added 0.7%.

Sales of newly built homes plunged 16.9% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 250,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, a far bigger jump than expected and the worst rate on record since 1962.

>> 10 Top Buy-Rated Real Estate Stocks for 2011

February's new-home sales figure remained 28% below year-earlier levels. Every U.S. region, save for the West, saw record lows last month. The Northeast saw sales drop 57% month over month.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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