Two home builders post mixed new-home orders |

Two home builders post mixed new-home orders

Daily Staff Report

BOSTON – Two home builders gave mixed signals on new home orders Tuesday.D.R. Horton Inc. said net sales orders in the quarter that ended December rose 19 percent to a record $3.2 billion, with orders rising to 11,463 homes from 9,901 a year ago.Every region in which the Fort Worth, Texas, company operates posted growth in both units and sales dollars, Chairman Donald R. Horton said.M/I Homes Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, said new contracts for its fourth quarter fell to 901 from 922 last year.On the New York Stock Exchange, shares of D.R. Horton rose 39 cents, or 1 percent, to close Tuesday at $40.34.NYSE-listed shares of M/I Homes rose 74 cents, or 1.7 percent, to close at $43.78.The home-builder sector fell late last week after Brookfield Homes Corp. and M.D.C. Holdings Inc. said quarterly orders for new homes had fallen from the prior year, triggering fears the housing market may be cooling.Earlier in the week, William Lyon Homes said new-home orders in the fourth quarter slipped 7 percent.However, the sector roared back Monday as Federal Reserve officials said the outlook for the U.S. economy is favorable with steady growth and low inflation, and hinted that the central bank’s series of interest-rate increases may be nearing an end.”Investors got negative on the builder group at the end of 2005, and (Monday’s rise) looks like a relief rally that the sky isn’t falling,” said Bill Mack, equity analyst at Standard & Poor’s.He noted that Brookfield Homes Corp., of Del Mar, Calif., and Denver-based M.D.C. Holdings Inc. came out with favorable earnings estimates despite the lower orders, which were confined to certain areas.”Investors who were apprehensive about buying at the end of the year are now pulling the trigger as rates are still low, the economy appears solid and the Fed may soon stop raising rates,” Mack said.Vail, Colorado

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