Masco reported a loss for its fourth quarter and will cut 8,000 U.S. jobs as a result of the steep decline in the nation’s housing market. The company lost $187 million for the quarter compared with a profit of $173 million in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Sales for the fourth quarter sales fell a bit less than 6%. For the year, sales were up 2%, while earnings decreased by 48%.

Most of the job cuts announced this month had already taken place in the fourth quarter. The layoffs, which amount to 16% of its U.S. workforce, are expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter.

The company blamed the decline on a decrease in housing construction and lower spending on “big ticket” home improvement items.

This news prompted one industry insider to speculate regarding Masco putting Delta Faucet up for sale.