NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Better-than-expected earnings from Lennar ( LEN) lifted shares of the homebuilder this morning and also helped boost the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction ( ITB) ETF, in contrast to weakness in the major averages. Lennar reported a loss of 4 cents per share, well ahead of analyst expectations for a 30 cents and greatly improved from the year-ago loss of 98 cents. Lennar's CEO cited cost-cutting and reduced marketing as part of the reason for the solid quarter. The firm also expects to be profitable for the year. On Tuesday KB Home ( KBH) lost 1.7% after reporting a larger-than-expected loss in the first quarter of 71 cents per share. Expectations were for 42 cents. There also wasn't much improvement from the year-ago loss of 75 cents, but the company did say it expects to be profitable later this year. Shares fell, but the ETFs advanced thanks to housing data. The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes were up in February from the same period in 2009, although inventories of existing homes stood at 8.6 months, up from 7.8 months in January. For comparison, inventories were at five months in 2005 and reached a peak of 10.1 months in April 2009. New-home sales data for February were released Wednesday morning. The Census Bureau reported that sales were 2.2% below January levels and 13.0% below February 2009 levels, while supply is up to 9.2 months. With a margin of error slightly north of double digits, this report should be taken with a grain of salt, but the supply trends do align with the existing home sales report from the National Association of Realtors. Putting the two reports together, it appears that existing-home sales are cutting into new-home sales in a very difficult market for home sellers. Additionally, mortgage rates are up, and applications are down in the past week, and they are also down from last year.