Exchange traded funds that invest in home builders and related housing sectors could see action early this week as a pair of key data points cross the wires.
Investors on Monday will get a report on February pending home sales, while markets will see the latest update on home prices from the S&P Case-Shiller indexes on Tuesday.
The iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index Fund (NYSEArca: ITB) and SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSEArca: XHB) are closely tied to the health of the housing market. The ETFs invest in builders and other subsectors such as retailers. For example, Williams Sonoma is the largest holding in SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF at about 4% of assets.
After rallying in December and early January, the home-builder ETFs have been stuck in a relatively narrow range.
Data on pending home sales can move builder ETFs because they are seen as a leading indicator of construction activity.
Builder ETFs took a poor housing report in stride last week when the Commerce Department estimated new home sales in February dropped about 17% to a record low.
However, some Wall Street analysts caution not to get too excited over the winter data. The real test for the U.S. residential market will be the key spring selling season.
“It’s worth noting as well that normally volatile winter data has become even more so with volumes at all time lows,” Deutsche Bank analyst Nishu Sood wrote in a recent research note. “When volumes are as low as they are, normal levels of survey error are magnified – dramatically reducing the information value of month to month trends.”
The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF is up nearly 3% so far this year but trails the S&P 500 Index.