U.S. home prices in big cities rise 0.3% in Sept.

11:15, November 25, 2009      

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Home prices in big cities rose slightly in September, according to housing market tracking data released Tuesday.

According to Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller, the home price index of 20 major cities rose 0.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted reading of 144.96 in September.

Prices rose month-over-month in 11 metro areas. But compared with a year earlier, they were down 9.4 percent, the smallest year-on-year decline since January 2008.

Analysts say that the September growth marked the fourth straight monthly increase and a clear sign the housing market recovery is continuing.

"We have seen broad improvement in home prices for most of the past six months," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Standard & Poor's index committee. "However, the gains in the most recent month are more modest than during the seasonally strong summer months."

U.S. home prices, as measured by the seasonally adjusted 20-city index, are still down 30 percent from their peak in April 2006.

Economists remain cautious whether the housing market recovery will continue because some of the government's stimulus policies will fade.

The popular 8,000 U.S. dollars tax credit for first time homebuyers, which was originally expected to expire by the end of this month, was extended by Congress earlier this month to April 30.

Rising unemployment, currently at 10.2 percent, is also a concern.

Some economists think the jobless rate could climb as high as 11 percent by the middle of next year before making a slow descent. It could take at least four years for the unemployment rate to drop back down to more normal levels.

Source: Xinhua
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