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[video] Home Prices Rise More Than Expected in December as Recovery Remains on Track

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The nation's housing recovery appears to be on track, according to some newly released data, although not at the pace it once was. Home prices rose slightly more than expected in December, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index. David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Index Committee, called 2013 the best year for the index since 2005, but noted that gains are slowing from month-to-month. That's in line with the latest results from luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers, which reported a 52% jump in quarterly revenue but said demand has leveled recently. Meanwhile, Home Depot reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, while posting weak sales that were offset by cost-cutting.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

The nation's housing recovery appears to be on track, according to some newly released data, although not at the pace it once was.

Home prices rose slightly more than expected in December, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index.  The composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis, beating economists' estimates of a rise of 0.6%, according to Thomson Reuters.  

The index rose 13.4% year over year, although December's number fell 0.1% from the month before and declined from a 13.7% annualized rate in November.  David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Index Committee, called 2013 the best year for the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index since 2005.  He did note that gains are slowing from month-to-month and said that the strongest part of the recovery in home values may be over.  

That's in line with the latest quarterly results from luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers (TOL), which reported a 52% jump in quarterly revenue as it sold more homes at higher prices. This, despite seeing its first drop in quarterly orders in three years as it said the harsh winter weather held back buyers. Toll said demand has leveled more recently, and cut the top end of its 2014 forecast for finished homes to 5,850 from 6,100.

Meanwhile, Home Depot (HD) continued to benefit from the housing recovery in the fourth quarter, posting a higher-than-expected quarterly profit.  While overall sales missed analyst expectations, weighed down by the cold winter weather, cost-cutting helped offset them. The company reported net earnings of $1.01 billion, or 73 cents a share, topping analyst expectations for profit of 71 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

In New York, I'm Brittany Umar for TheStreet.

Written by Brittany Umar in New York.

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