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Market

January Home Prices Record Biggest Increase Since 2006

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MADISON, Wis. (3/27/13)--January U.S. home prices recorded their biggest year-over-year increase since the summer of 2006, according to Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home-price indexes.

The 20-city index rose 8.1% in January from a year earlier, beating the 7.9% consensus expectations of economists in a Thomson Reuters poll and a Bloomberg poll (The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.com March 26).

That increase was the most since the housing bubble burst, David Blitzer, chairman of S&P's index committee, told the Journal.

The 10-city index gained 7.3% year over-year. However, the two indexes, through January, still are roughly 30% below their peaks in June/July 2006.

The shrinking inventory of homes on the market, reduced foreclosures, low mortgage rates and the improving economy bolstered a gradual recovery in the housing market, the Journal said.

In a related matter, sales of new U.S. houses in February resulted in the best back-to-back months in more than four years (Bloomberg.com and Moody's Economy.com March 26).

Purchases of newly constructed homes dropped 4.6% to an annual pace of 411,000--following a 431,000 rate in January, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.