Homebuilder stocks tumbled Tuesday as disappointing monthly housing data and slowing orders at builder Lennar weighed on the sector.
Housing starts in the U.S. came in at an annualized rate of 1.14 million in August, well below the expected 1.19 million. Construction permits fell 0.4 percent to a 1.14 million-unit rate last month.
The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) fell about 0.91 percent on the day. Lennar and Pulte shares dropped about 3.5 and 2.9 percent respectively, erasing the prior day’s gains.
Homebuilders had surged on Monday after a monthly survey of builder confidence jumped a striking six points in September to the highest level in nearly a year.
On Tuesday, Lennar shares reversed course. The stock fell more than 4 percent at its low, for its biggest intraday percentage loss in more than 7 months.
The homebuilder’s third quarter report showed its slowest growth in orders in more than a year. Lennar pointed to a downturn in its Houston market. “The decrease in home deliveries in Houston was primarily due to less demand in the higher priced communities driven by volatility in the energy sector,” the company said in its quarterly release.
Orders, a key indicator of future revenue for homebuilders, fell 14 percent in Houston, accounting for 7.4 percent of the total orders during the quarter. Lennar’s total orders rose 8.1 percent to 7,018 homes in the three months ended Aug. 31.
Despite this, Lennar’s profit and revenue topped Wall Street’s estimates for the third quarter as it sold more homes at higher prices.
Meanwhile, KB Home and DR Horton were rated “outperform” in new coverage at Wedbush. The firm said DR Horton isn’t cheap relative to the group but feels the stock is worth a look based on the consistency of performance. It also said KB Home might benefit from any loosening of lending standards, among other factors.
KB Home is set to report quarterly results after the closing bell Tuesday, offering another indication of the health of the housing market.