Tuesday, December 28, 2010

U.S. Home Prices Fell in October–Case Shiller

U.S. home prices declined in October from a month earlier, according to the S&P Case-Shiller home-price indexes, while its 10-city index and just four major markets showed year-to-year increases.

The year-to-year increases were seen in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington. While composite prices remain above their spring 2009 lows, six markets hit their lowest levels since home prices began dropping in 2006 and 2007: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore., Miami, Seattle and Tampa, Fla.

David Blitzer, chairman of S&P's index committee, said "The double-dip is almost here, as six cities set new lows for the period since the 2006 peaks. There is no good news in October's report. Home prices across the country continue to fall."

The indexes, based on the three-month averages of home prices, turned lower in August for the first time in four months, a delayed response to the housing-market weakness after federal home-buyer tax credits expired in April. Prices declined again in September, with the rate of decline showing signs of accelerating.

However, recent data show home sales are recovering a bit despite high unemployment, a sluggish economy and worries about flaws in foreclosure documents. The National Association of Realtors said last week that sales of previously occupied homes increased a less-than-expected 5.6% in November after falling 2.2% in October. Prices for existing homes edged up for the first time since August, rising 0.4% from a year earlier but little changed from October.

The Case-Shiller index of 10 major metropolitan areas declined 1.2% from September, while the 20-city index fell 1.3%. However, they were up 0.2% and down 0.8%, respectively, from a year earlier. Adjusted for seasonal factors, the sequential declines were 0.9% and 1%, respectively.

In October, prices in every metropolitan statistical area covered by the index fell from September. Month-to-month decliners were led by Atlanta and Detroit, which were down 2.9% and 2.5%, respectively.

Economic Events:

At 7:45 AM EST, the weekly ICSC-Goldman Store Sales report will be released, giving an update on the health of the consumer through this analysis of retail sales.

At 8:55 AM EST, the weekly Redbook report will be released, giving us more information about consumer spending.

At 9:00 AM EST, the monthly S&P/Case-Shiller home price index report will be released.  Given that most economists don’t expect the overall U.S. economy to improve until housing prices end their decline, the market will be watching this number closely.

At 10:00 AM EST, the monthly report on Consumer Confidence for December will be released.  The consensus index level is 57.4, which would be a 3.3 point increase from November’s number.

Also at 10:00 AM EST, the State Street Investor Confidence Index will be released, which looks at changes in the amount of equities held in the portfolios of institutional investors.


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