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INSTANT VIEW: Case-Shiller shows slowing in home-price decline

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prices of U.S. single-family homes fell 18.7 percent in March from a year earlier, but the pace of decline showed slowing for a second consecutive month, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

KEY POINTS: * The composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 2.2 percent in March from February, S&P said in a statement on Tuesday. The depreciation on a month-over-month and year-over-year basis was above expectations based on a Reuters survey of economists. The 20-city index dates back to 2000. * S&P said its composite index of 10 metropolitan areas declined 2.1 percent in March from February for a 18.6 percent year-over-year drop. The 10-city index dates back to 1988. * “Declines in residential real estate continued at a steady pace into March,” David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, said in a statement. * But, it was the second month since October 2007 where the 10- and 20-City Composites did not post a record annual decline, he said.

COMMENTS:

JIM AWAD, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ZEPHYR MANAGEMENT, NEW YORK:

“I think this will be part of the reality check that began two weeks ago for those who believed that the green shoots would lead to a v-shaped recovery. People are starting to focus on the timing and shape of the recovery, rather than assuming that the shoots will grow into trees.

“This will add to those who believe that after a 30 percent increase in the S&P 500 we need a reality check as to what the green shoots are going to lead to.”

SCOTT BROWN, CHIEF ECONOMIST, RAYMOND JAMES & ASSOCIATES, ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA:

The S&P/Case-Shiller reading was “maybe a little bit lower than expected. We had hoped to see the pace of home price declines moderating. Two percent per month is still worrisome.”

GARY THAYER, SENIOR ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO ADVISORS, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI:

“The index showed continued weakness in home prices during March. A large oversupply of homes and tight credit continue to put downward pressure on prices. We haven’t seen a significant upturn in home purchases and we probably need to see that before we see the end of declining home prices.”

MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock indexes slipped. BONDS: U.S. Treasury debt prices were little changed. DOLLAR: U.S. dollar gained slightly.

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