Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 16:00 UK

US house prices continue to fall

For Sale sign outside US house
Prices are now 30.7% below the peak seen in mid-2006

US house prices continued to fall in February, but the rate of decline in some markets is slowing down, a leading index has indicated.

Prices were 18.6% lower than in February 2008, the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price index said.

This was slightly better than the 19% annual fall seen in January, and was the first time in 16 months that the annual decline was not a record.

Separately, the Conference Board said US consumer confidence jumped in April.

It said its Consumer Confidence Index had risen to 39.2, up from a revised 26.9 in March.

Improvement

The S&P/Case Shiller index records prices in 20 of the largest cities in the US.

"Nine of the 20 metro areas showed improvement in their annual returns compared to their returns in January," said David Blitzer at S&P.

But he added: "We will certainly need a few more months of data before we can determine if home prices are finally turning around."

House prices were also down 2.2% month-on-month.

The index is now 30.7% down from its peak in mid-2006, with average home prices now at similar levels to where they were in the third quarter of 2003, S&P said.

For the second consecutive month, prices in Phoenix showed the largest annual falls (35.2%), followed by Las Vegas (31.7%) and San Francisco (31%).

"It confirms information we've seen from that home prices are probably stabilising at low levels," commented Asha Bangalore, economist at Northern Trust in Chicago.



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