UPDATE 1-US Jan home prices fall for 7th straight month-S&P

 (Recasts, adds details, background)
 WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) - U.S. single family home
prices fell for the seventh straight month in January, bringing
prices to just above April 2009 lows, a closely watched survey
said on Tuesday.
 The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan
areas declined 0.2 percent in January from December on a
seasonally adjusted basis where a Reuters poll of economists
forecast a drop of 0.4 percent. Prices in the 20 cities have
fallen 3.1 percent year-over-year compared to 3.2 percent
expected.
 "The housing market recession is not yet over," said David
Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P. "At most, we
have seen all statistics bounce along their troughs; at worst,
the feared double-dip recession may be materializing."
 Eleven of the 20 cities fell to the lowest levels since
home prices peaked in 2006 and 2007, while the overall index
was just 1.1 percent above the April 2009 low, the report
showed.
 Unadjusted for seasonal impact, home prices fell 1.0
percent for the month. Only San Diego and Washington, D.C.
showed annual price increases.
 The Case-Shiller index lags data from the National
Association of Realtors, which reported earlier this month U.S
that the median U.S. home price had hit a nine year low in
February as home sales volumes plunged 9.6 percent.
 In a separate report, the realtors group on Monday said
contracts for sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose 2.1
percent in February after two straight declines.
 The pending contracts data leads existing home sales by a
month or two and suggests some of the recent weakness was due
to unusually severe winter weather.
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  Graphic - US house prices:
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 (Reporting by Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)



UPDATE 1-US Jan home prices fall for 7th straight month-S&P