The New York Times
30 May 2012
Home prices rose in March from February in most major American cities surveyed, according to a private housing report on Tuesday, marking the first increase in prices in seven months.
A separate economic report, however, showed that Americans’ confidence in the economy in May had its biggest drop in eight months.
The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home price indexes showed that prices increased in 12 of the 20 cities it tracks. The overall index was essentially unchanged from February, after falling 0.8 percent from January, and it was down 2.6 percent from March a year ago.
Three of the weakest markets reported signs of improvement: prices increased in Tampa and Miami, while prices in Las Vegas were unchanged.
The biggest month-over-month increases were in Phoenix, Seattle and Dallas. Prices dropped sharply in Detroit, Chicago and Atlanta.
The increases partly reflect the beginning of the spring selling season. The month-to-month prices aren’t adjusted for seasonal factors.
The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 64.9 points, down from a revised 68.7 in April. It was the biggest drop since October 2011.
Economists were expecting a reading of 70 points, according to a FactSet poll of analysts. The current level is below February’s level of 71.6, which was the highest level it had been in a year.
Consumer confidence is widely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity in the United States. The measure is significantly below the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy. But the current level is well above the 40 it hit last October.
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