Home prices grew steadily in July, according to a report released Tuesday, underscoring that the housing market enjoyed a strong first half of the year even as more recent indicators suggest it is slowing.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, covering the entire nation, rose 4.7% in the 12 months ended in July, greater than a 4.5% increase in June.
The 10-city index gained 4.5% from a year earlier, compared with a 4.6% increase in June. The 20-city index gained 5% year-over-year.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 5.1% increase in the 20-city index.
David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said the home-price index has risen at a 4% or higher annual rate since September 2012, well ahead of inflation.
"Prices of existing homes and housing overall are seeing strong growth and contributing to recent solid growth for the economy," he said.
Month-over-month price gains were modest. Not seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Index rose 0.7% from June to July. The 10-city index and 20-city index both rose 0.6% over the month.
After seasonal adjustment the national index was up 0.4%. The 10-city and 20-city composite were both down 0.2% over the month.
The hottest markets in the country continued to show sharp price gains, with San Francisco recording gains of 10.4%, Denver of 10.3% and Dallas of 8.7%.
The housing market has been slowing in recent months after a strong start to the year. Most economists view the cooling off as healthy because they note prices in many markets were increasing faster than incomes, making it difficult for younger buyers to afford to buy a home.
Most recently, the National Association of Realtors said a forward-looking indicator of the housing market----its pending home-sales index, which is based on signings for purchases of previously owned homes----declined 1.4%. The realtors blamed a lack of supply of homes on the market for stifling sales.
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