Joining a chorus of home builders hurt by a downturn in the U.S. housing markets, Pulte Homes said late yesterday that it had closed 12,566 homes during the fourth quarter of 2006, a decline of 20 percent from reported closings during the fourth quarter of 2005. Net new orders for the quarter were reported at 6,446 homes, a 34 percent decrease from last year's fourth quarter. For the full year 2006, Pulte said home closings were reported at 41,487, down 9 percent from one year ago; net new orders for all of 2006 were also off, down 29 percent from the prior year to 33,925 homes. "Pulte Homes continues to navigate through a challenging operating environment, with demand for new homes during the fourth quarter still far below pre-2006 levels," said Richard J. Dugas, Jr., president and CEO. "We continue to reduce the number of homes we are starting, as evidenced by our meaningful reduction in speculative units under construction during the quarter. In addition, we experienced a stabilization to a slight improvement in our fourth quarter cancellation rate compared with the third quarter, as this metric showed progressive improvement throughout the period." Pulte also said its land-related impairments will likely be in the $330 million to $350 million range for the fourth quarter, more than double the company's previously-issued guidance of $150 million. For more information, visit