The S&P 500 was down 0.3% to 2,098.22 in midday trading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.3% to 18,060.86 and the Nasdaq was flat at 5,007.43.

The yield on a 10-year Treasury bond was down 1.6% to 1.89%.

The price of gold rose 0.4% to $1,193.

HOMEBUILDING

Orange County-homebuilders were up in midday trading as the Commerce Dept. reported new-home sales at their highest levels since 2008. Sales in February increased about 25% year-over-year and about 8% from January, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000. Economists had expected a decline to a 460,000 sales pace.

Irvine-based Tri Pointe Group Inc. was up 1.6% to $15.32 and a $2.5 billion market cap. Irvine-based Standard Pacific Corp. was up 1.7% to $8.89, giving their common stock a value of $2.4 billion. Newport Beach-based William Lyon Homes was up 2% to $24.03 and a $734 million market cap. Aliso Viejo-based New Home Co. Inc. was up 1.3% to $15.35 and a $250 million market cap.