Homebuilder ETFs surge as economic outlook improves

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Exchange-traded funds that track the housing sector surged higher Wednesday as investors were heartened by news of a possible coronavirus treatment suggesting the residential real estate market might not be hit as badly as expected and in spite of a report on Wednesday that showed home-contract signings slumped in March. The iShares U.S. Home Construction fund ITB was 5.2% higher late morning, while the SPDR S&P Homebuilders fund XHB rose 4.9%. Both funds have as their biggest holdings shares of homebuilders like D.R. Horton, Inc. DHI and Lennar Corporation LEN, and housing-related consumer discretionary companies like Lowe’s Companies, Inc. LOW and Home Depot, Inc. HD, all of which were up sharply Wednesday. Both funds are still trailing the broader stock market in the year to date, however: ITB has lost 15% and XHB is down 18%, referring to the funds’ ticker symbols, compared with the 9.2% loss for the S&P 500 SPX.