US home prices continue to climb

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By Robert Carry

Home prices in the US have enjoyed a fourth successive month of price rises, suggesting the nation's troubled property market may be through the worst of the downturn.

According to figures released in the latest Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller report yesterday, home prices in 20 metropolitan areas rose 1.2% in August from July. The rise came on the back of 1.6% July increase. The improvement helped to reduce the annual rate of house price decline to 11.3% in the 20-city index.

"Broadly speaking, the rate of annual decline in home price values continues to improve," said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee.

News of the increase in house prices triggered a positive response from US stocks. However, Blitzer warned that a second house price slump could be on the way when the US government's $US8,000 tax credit scheme for first-time home buyers expires at the end of the month. He added that higher unemployment rates through year-end could also have a negative impact.

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