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Homebuilders Shares Add to Losses on Foreclosure News

Housing stocks were mostly lower Thursday after data showed new home foreclosures hit a record high in spring, giving the sector its third consecutive day of declines.

The higher foreclosure rate means more houses are going back onto the market at a time when builders are stuck with a glut of unsold homes. Most major builders have reported losses in the latest quarter because of charges to write down the value of unsold inventory or to forfeit deposits on land they no longer want to buy.

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Some builders have even reported operating losses, mostly because sales have skidded, or profit margins have contracted as they cut prices to sell homes.

Housing stocks had rebounded from at or near 52-week lows last week on psychological assurance from the Federal Reserve and President Bush that policy makers would do what they can to prevent economic decline. But the sector has given back most of those gains this week.

Among the biggest decliners Thursday were:

  • Pulte Homes shares fell 17 cents to $16.19.
  • Centex lost 70 cents to $27.34.
  • Hovnanian Enterprises, which reports quarterly earnings later in the day, shed 34 cents to $11.47.
  • Ryland Homes fell 67 cents to $27.12.
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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.