NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of top homebuilders have slumped since putting in 2015 highs on Jan. 13, but Wednesday's report that housing starts rose by a better-than-expected 4.4% in December should stabilize these stocks.

Before providing performance measures and investing guidelines for DR Horton (DHI - Get Report) , KB Home (KBH - Get Report) , Lennar (LEN - Get Report) , PulteGroup (PHM - Get Report) , Ryland (RYL) and Toll Brothers (TOL - Get Report) , let's take a look at homebuilder confidence, single-family housing starts and the housing industry as a whole.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (in blue below with scale on the left) dipped 1 point to 57 in January. The index has been above the neutral reading of 50 for seven consecutive months. The NAHB continues to give this data a positive read, saying "steady economic growth, rising consumer confidence and a growing labor market will help the housing market continue to move forward in 2015."

Not shown in the graph below is the latest report on single-family housing starts (in red below with scale at the right), released Wednesday morning. They surged 7.2% in December to an annual rate of 728,000 units, a 6 ½-year high. Single-family starts still remain well below the normal rate of 1.1 million to 1.2 million units.

The PHLX Housing Sector Index shown below closed Tuesday at 208.57, above the 61.8% Fibonacci Retracement of the popped housing bubble. The all-time intraday high was 293.49, set in July 2005, and the low was 54.31, set in March 2009. The 61.8% retracement is 202.05 with the 50% retracement at 173.80, last tested between June 2013 and October 2013. If the housing sector stabilizes, the upside for this index is to a key quarterly technical level at 224.20.

The PHLX Housing Sector Index includes 19 stocks, 11 of which are homebuilders, including the six profiled in this post. The eight other companies provide products and services supporting the housing industry.

Here are the performance measures and how to trade these stocks given recent extreme volatility.

DR Horton ($22.95) had a gain of 13% in 2014 and began 2015 setting a year-to-date intraday high at $26.82 on Jan. 13. The stock is down 10% year to date and is 17% below the high. The stock is below its 50-day simple moving average at $24.63 and on the cusp of its 200-day simple moving average at $22.89.

DR Horton has a negative weekly chart with its key weekly moving average at $24.21 with its 200-week simple moving average at $18.78.

Investors looking to buy DR Horton should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to buy weakness to the 200-week simple moving average at $18.78. Investors looking to reduce positions should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to sell strength to quarterly and semiannual technical levels at $25.70 and $28.30, respectively.

KB Home ($11.90) had a loss of 9.5% in 2014 and began 2015 setting a year-to-date intraday high at $17.25 on Jan.13. The stock is down 39% year to date and is 45% below the high. The stock is well below its 50-day and 200-day simple moving averages at $16.14 and $16.54, respectively.

KB Home has a negative weekly chart with its key weekly moving average at $14.86 and its 200-week simple moving average at $14.31.

Investors looking to buy KB Home should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to buy weakness to the stock's prior cycle low at $6.46 set in June 2012. Investors looking reduce positions should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to sell strength to a semiannual technical level at $15.80.

Lennar ($42.33) had a gain of 13% in 2014 and began 2015 setting a year-to-date intraday high at $48.51 on Jan. 13. The stock is down 6% year to date and is 15% below the high. The stock is below its 50-day simple moving average at $44.95 and is above its 200-day simple moving average at $41.03.

Lennar has a negative weekly chart with its key weekly moving average at $43.90 with its 200-week simple moving average at $32.50.

Investors looking to buy Lennar should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to buy weakness to a key quarterly technical level at $41.89. Investors looking to reduce positions should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to sell strength to monthly and semiannual technical levels at $45.20 and $51.16, respectively.

PulteGroup ($20.80) had a gain of 5.4% in 2014 and began 2015 setting a year-to-date intraday high at $23.28 on Jan.13. The stock is down 3.2% year to date and is 12% below the high. The stock is below its 50-day simple moving average at $21.15 and is above its 200-day simple moving average at $19.47.

PulteGroup has a weekly chart with its key weekly moving average at $21.12 and its 200-week simple moving average at $14.76.

Investors looking to buy PulteGroup should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to buy weakness to its 200-day simple moving average at $19.47. Investors looking to reduce positions should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to sell strength to a semiannual technical level at $24.76. A key quarterly technical level of $20.95 should act as a magnet.

Ryland Group ($35.38) had a loss of 11% in 2014 and began 2015 setting a year-to-date intraday high at $41.67 on Jan. 13. The stock is down 9% year to date and is 18% below the high. The stock is below its 50-day and 200-day simple moving averages at $37.80 and $37.02, respectively.

Ryland has a negative weekly chart with its key weekly moving average at $37.37 with its 200-week simple moving average at $30.63.

Investors looking to buy Ryland should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to buy weakness to its 200-week simple moving average at $30.63. Investors looking to reduce positions should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to sell strength to quarterly and semiannual technical levels at $42.48 and $48.40, respectively.

Toll Brothers ($33.20) had a loss of 7.4% in 2014 and began 2015 setting a year-to-date intraday high at $36.19 on Jan. 13. The stock is down 3.2% year to date and is 8.7% below the high. The stock is below its 50-day and 200-day simple moving averages at $33.65 and $34.08, respectively.

Toll Brothers has a negative weekly chart with its key weekly moving average at $33.61 with its 200-week simple moving average at $29.64.

Investors looking to buy Toll Brothers should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to buy weakness to its 200-week simple moving average at $29.64. Investors looking to reduce positions should enter a good-'til-canceled limit order to sell strength to quarterly and semiannual technical levels at $36.29 and $42.84, respectively.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.