The S&P 500 was down 0.5% in midday trading to 2,056.56.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.5% to 17,619.52.
The NASDAQ was down 0.5% to 4,749.53.
The yield on a 10-year Treasury bond was down 0.3% to 1.75%.
The price of gold was up 0.2% to $1,276.
Orange County homebuilders were buoyed by a Commerce Department report that showed housing starts in April rose 6.6% compared with March, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.17 million. New applications for building permits also rose, though less than expected, which economists took as indicating steady demand into late summer and early fall.
Irvine-based CalAtlantic Group Inc. was up 1.4% to $34.80 and a $4.2 billion market cap. Newport Beach based William Lyon Homes was up 1.9% to $14.25 and a $462 million market cap. Irvine-based Tri Pointe Group Inc. increased 2.1% to $11.05 and a $1.8 billion market cap.