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Case-Shiller: Minor Gains, No Big Recovery

Stocks in this article: DHI SPF LEN KBH MDC

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The latest U.S. housing market data from Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes for the month of April shows modest improvement in home pricing, but short of any signs of a sustained recovery.

The annual growth rates of the 20 major metro markets covered by Case-Shiller improved in April over March. The 10-City Composite Index was up 4.6% from where it was in April 2009, and the 20-City Composite Index was up 3.8% over the prior year, however, home price levels remain more or less in the range of the April 2009 lows set in the 10-City and 20-City Case-Shiller indexes.

On a month-over-month basis, a rise of less than 1% was the first such rise in six months, but was not of a size that showed confidence in a bigger recovery in housing.

David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, said "Many of the gains are modest and somewhat concentrated in California. Moreover, nine of the 20 cities reached new lows at some time since the beginning of this year. The month-over-month figures were driven by the end of the Federal first-time home buyer tax credit program on April 30th."

S&P noted in its latest Case-Shiller data that the modest gains in April -- during the federal homebuyer tax credit program -- don't take into account recent negative housing market data for the month of May. S&P said that "other housing data for May 2010 show sharp declines in existing and new home sales and housing starts. Inventory data and foreclosure activity have not shown any signs of improvement. Consistent and sustained boosts to economic growth from housing may have to wait to next year. "

Buoyed by the homebuyer tax credit, 18 cities saw month-to-month gains in April compared to six cities showing gains in the previous month. Miami and New York were the two cities that fared the worst in April compared to March. New York was the only metro area to post a new relative index low with April's Case-Shiller report.

Some of the hardest hit markets in the Southwest and West continue to recover, with Dallas, Denver, San Diego and San Francisco having all posted six consecutive months of positive annual rates of return.

Many of the homebuilder stocks were down early on Tuesday, including D.R. Horton (DHI), MDC Holdings (MDC), Lennar (LEN), KB Home (KBH) and Standard Pacific (SPF). P/> -- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.

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