Rising home prices show traction in housing recovery

Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:07am EDT
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By Leah Schnurr and Jason Lange

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Single-family home prices rose for the fourth month in a row in May when adjusting for seasonal swings, suggesting the recovery in the housing market continued to gain traction.

Other data on Tuesday showed spending by American consumers fell in June for the first time in nearly a year when accounting for inflation, underscoring the recent loss of momentum in the broader economy.

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.9 percent in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping economists' expectations for a 0.5 percent gain.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, prices fared even better, jumping 2.2 percent.

The rate of decline on a yearly basis moderated, with prices down 0.7 percent compared to a 1.9 percent drop in April.

The housing market, which collapsed during the 2007-2009 recession, has been a relative bright spot in the economy this year, although it remains hobbled by a glut of unsold homes.

"Real estate continues to show improvement off the bottom. That's one of the few encouraging signs we've seen," said Subodh Kumar, an investment strategist at Subodh Kumar & Associates in Toronto.

Groundbreaking on new U.S. homes, for example, rose in June to its fastest pace in over three years.   Continued...

A house for sale is pictured in Alexandria, Virginia in this March 22, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Molly Riley/Files