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Wall Street pummels real estate stocks

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Stock prices of publicly owned companies throughout the housing sector have tumbled in recent weeks as mortgage interest rates have risen in anticipation of the Federal Reserve raising its key funds rate. Some interest rate-sensitive stocks have dipped as much as 26 percent since March 31, the last time the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly survey reported an average interest rate lower than 5.5 percent on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Not all stock prices have lost a fourth of their value, but many have suffered losses of about 15 percent. The average rate for that benchmark mortgage has climbed steadily since the end of March to as high as 6.32 percent this month, according to MBA survey's last week. The stock price declines haven't been due solely to interest rate climbs. Wall Street also has reacted to housing companies' recent first quarter earnings reports. Several companies' public statements mentioned a drop off in mortgage refinancings and the specter of...