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U.S. Home Prices Rise
U.S. Home Prices Rise

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite showed a 1.6% monthly rise in U.S. home prices during July for the fourth consecutive month, to reach the highest level seen, in nearly two years. During July, the Case-Shiller composite posted a 1.6% increase in the wake of a 2.3% advance in June. Compared to 2011, home prices are now higher by 1.2%. For the third month in a row, all 20 cities in the Case-Shiller Index recorded increases in home prices. The rise in home prices reflects increasing demand for new and pre-owned homes following the real-estate market's worse slump in modern times. "The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing. Single family housing starts are well ahead of last year's pace, existing home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "All in all, we are more optimistic about housing." Despite the recent increase in prices, homes still sell for about 30% less compared to the market's 2006 peak. All 20 cities in the composite index registered an increase in prices and nationally, home prices are back to summer 2003 levels. The following are the increases the composite cities saw in July: Atlanta 2.6%; Boston 1.8%; Charlotte 0.9%; Chicago 2.7%; Cleveland 0.4%; Dallas 0.9%; Denver 1.3%; Detroit 3.3%; Las Vegas 0.7%; Los Angeles 1.3%; Miami 2.1%; Minneapolis 3.7%; New York 1.2%; Phoenix 2.2%; Portland 1.2%; San Diego 1.1%; San Francisco 1.9%; Seattle 1.4%; Tampa 0.9%; Washington 1.5%.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's monthly house price index based on Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgages during July, U.S. house prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2%. From a previously reported 0.7% increase, June saw a revision of a 0.6% gain. FHFA reported prices are up 3.7% compared to July 2011.

The Conference Board reported Tuesday that Consumer-Confidence index increased to 70.3 in September to strike the highest level seen since February. "Despite continuing economic uncertainty, consumers are slightly more optimistic than they have been in several months," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. September expectations increased for employment and business conditions, while consumers' views on the present situation rose as well.

Standard & Poor's Rating Services on Tuesday pared down its economic forecast for the euro zone in 2012 and 2013 in response to indicators that "paint a bleak picture" for the region. "The data are confirming our view that the region is entering a new period of recession, after three quarters of negative or flat growth since the final quarter of 2010," according to Jean-Michel Six, the rating agency's chief economist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "But prospects continue to vary from country to country." S&P said it now expects a drop of 0.8% in euro-zone GDP during 2012 and flat growth for 2013, compared to its July projection of a 0.7% GDP dip in 2012 and 0.3% growth in 2013.


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Sept 25, 2012


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