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The seasonally adjusted Case-Shiller Home Price Index held steady in January. Among the 20 metro areas that the index tracks, eight metros reported increases in prices (Seattle, Tampa, Miami, Washington, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Dallas, and Denver) during January, while it was unchanged in Boston and Las Vegas, and fell in the remaining metros.
On a year-to-year basis, the Case-Shiller Home Price registered a 3.8% decline reflecting lower prices in all metro areas from a year ago, with the exception of Miami and Phoenix where prices moved up. Although inventories of existing homes have dropped below the historical median, the number of foreclosed properties is projected to increase and raise the number of homes for sale in the near term, implying that home prices are unlikely to post a turnaround soon.
Consumer Confidence Slips in March
The Conference Boards Consumer Confidence Index slipped to 70.2 in March from 71.6 in the prior month. The Present Situation Index rose to 51.0 during March from 46. 4 in February, but the Expectations Index declined to 83.0 from 88.4 in February. The number of respondents indicating that jobs are hard to get and jobs are plentiful moved up, with the net of the two indexes declining in March. This net measure has a strong positive relationship with the unemployment rate (see Chart 3). The unemployment rate held steady in February at 8.3%. Based on this information, it is entirely conceivable that a lower unemployment could be reported for March.