Updated from 11:17 a.m. EST
Durable goods orders and new-home sales were both less than expected in December, according to government reports released Wednesday.
Orders were flat after a sharp decline in the previous month, while new-home sales fell 5.1% to an annualized rate of 1.06 million units.
Economists had expected durable goods orders to rise 2%. The flat performance in December included a 0.1% increase in defense-oriented goods. Overall, orders were $181.4 billion. The government reduced November's decline to 2.3%, from the original 2.5% drop.
Though economists had expected 1.10 million units in December, November's rate was revised sharply higher to 1.11 million.
New-ome sales still hit a record in 2003, up 11.5% to 1.08 million units from a year ago. Existing-home sales, which surged almost 7% in December, also hit a record in 2003, as rock-bottom interest rates continue to attract new buyers.
December's disappointment hurt shares in homebuilders. Recently,
fell $1.20, or 2.9%, to $40.46,
lost $2.61, or 2.33%. to $109.19,
dropped $1.35, or 2.9%, to $45.27,
lost 87 cents, or 1.9%, to $44.29, and
fell $1.04, or 1.3%, to $79.06.