UPDATE 1-US Nov home prices dip, annual drop improves-S&P

(Adds quotes, peak to trough drop, graphic, details, byline)

By Lynn Adler

NEW YORK, Jan 26 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. home prices slipped in
November and were softer than expected in the latest sign that
a rebound in the U.S. housing market is still tenuous,
according to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller indexes on
Tuesday.

The S&P composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan
areas slipped 0.2 percent in November after a revised 0.1
percent October dip, for a 5.3 percent annual drop.

A Reuters survey had forecast a 0.1 percent November rise.
Prices were originally reported as unchanged in October.

“Up until a while ago it looked like home prices might have
bottomed,” said Suvrat Prakash, U.S. interest rate strategist
at BNP Paribas. “There might be a double dip in home prices,
which could feed through to the rest of the economy,” he said,
adding that housing still faces many hurdles.

Several major government supports for housing are soon
ending, including an extended and expanded home buyer tax
credit for which buyers must sign contracts by April 30.

The end of such incentives just as mortgage rates rise and
foreclosed properties start hitting the market could pressure
prices anew, economists agree.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the 20-city index rose 0.2
percent in November, S&P said, after a 0.3 percent rise the
prior month.

The 10-city index declined 0.2 percent in November after
being unchanged in October, for a 4.5 percent annual drop.

The home price picture remains mixed despite steady annual
improvement, said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index
Committee at Standard & Poor’s.

The pace of annual decline in home prices has improved for
10 straight months. See TABLE at [ID:nN26236286].

“Only five of the markets saw price increases in November
versus October,” he said. “What is more interesting is that
four of the markets — Charlotte, Las Vegas, Seattle and Tampa
— posted new low index levels as measured by the past four
years.”

Other markets continue to improve month over month, with
Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco posting price
increases for at least six consecutive months.

“To add more mixed signals, we are in a seasonally weak
period for home prices, so the seasonally-adjusted data are
generally more positive, with 14 of the markets and both
composites showing improved prices in November,” Blitzer noted.
“On balance, while these data do show that home prices are far
more stable than they were a year ago, there is no clear sign
of a sustained, broad-based recovery.”

A three-year housing market crash has swept prices back to
levels seen in late 2003, according to S&P, boosting
affordability.

From their peak in the second quarter of 2006 through
November, the 10-city index has toppled 30 percent and the
20-city index has tumbled 29.2 percent.
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For related graphic, see http://link.reuters.com/rus75h
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(Additional reporting by Burton Frierson)
(Editing by Theodore d’Afflisio)

UPDATE 1-US Nov home prices dip, annual drop improves-S&P