Toll Brothers Inc reported higher orders than many analysts expected in its fiscal second quarter and offered a glimmer of hope that the luxury-home market is starting to thaw.

But the Horsham, PA, builder also said the housing market isn't out of the woods as it reported a 51% revenue decline to $398.3 million for the quarter ended April 30.

Another gloomy sign was that the dollar amount of Toll's backlog, which includes homes that are in the pipeline to be built, fell about 9% from the previous quarter as sales remained weak.

Still, Chief Executive Robert Toll said the improving stock market, combined with increasing availability of mortgages for large homes, was luring wealthy buyers. 'We have a few reasons for cautious optimism,' he said.

Wall Street Journal