USA-HOUSING

(Reuters)

Home Prices Edge Lower in November

Politics Reuters

U.S. single-family home price appreciation slowed to its weakest level more than two years in November as lean inventories and tight lending standards limited housing market activity, according to a closely watched survey released on Tuesday.

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The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 4.3 percent in November from the prior year, the slowest since October 2012 although it matched analyst expectations. This compared with a 4.5 percent annual increase in October.

"With the spring home buying season, and spring training, still a month or two away, the housing recovery is barely on first base," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. "Prospects for a home run in 2015 aren't good," he added.

The 12-month home price growth rate in Cleveland was the weakest among the 20 cities tracked by S&P/Case-Shiller at 0.6 percent in November.

In contrast, Miami and San Francisco continued to lead all cities, posting 12-month gains of 8.6 percent and 8.9 percent.

On a monthly basis, S&P/Case-Shiller's seasonally adjusted home price index on 20 cities rose 0.7 percent, a tad stronger than 0.6 percent forecast by analysts polled by Reuters. This matched a revised 0.7 percent gain in October.

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Excluding seasonal adjustments, home prices in the 20 cities tracked fell 0.2 percent, matching forecasts and accelerating from the 0.1 percent drop in October.

A broader measure of national housing market activity rose at a 4.7 percent clip on a year-over-year basis, compared with a 4.6 percent rate in October.

The seasonally adjusted 10-city gauge rose 0.7 percent in November following a revised 0.6 percent gain in October, while the non-adjusted 10-city index fell 0.3 percent after a 0.2 percent drop in October. (Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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