Standard & Poor's widely watched 20-city Case-Shiller home
price index posted a small gain between April and May, a bit of
good news for a residential real estate market that has been torpid
in the wake of the homebuyer tax credit's expiration.
The 20-city index rose 1.3 percent sequentially. It's been posting
incremental gains for several months, although past months saw it
only become less negative. Now, it appears, price increases are
occurring once more - but S&P index committee chairman David
Blitzer was quick to caution that the index does not hint at a
"Since reaching its recent trough in April 2009, the housing market
has really only stabilized at this lower level," he said. "The last
seven months have basically been flat."
While markets responded well to the Case-Shiller news - the Dow
Jones Industrial Average edged higher Tuesday - consumer sentiment
appears to be turning negative. The Conference Board's consumer
confidence index slipped in July as sustained employment gains
failed to materialize.
"Concerns about business conditions and the labor market are
casting a dark cloud over consumers that is not likely to lift
until the job market improves," Conference Board Consumer Research
Center director Lynn Franco said.
By Benjamin Foster