Single-family home prices were unchanged in March from February, but fell in the first quarter on renewed price pressure, Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller home price indexes showed on Tuesday.
KEY POINTS: * Prices have rebounded from lows hit during the crisis, yet the end of tax incentives for homebuyers combined with mounting foreclosures suggests more weakness, S&P said. * The S&P composite index of 20 metropolitan areas was unchanged in March from February on a seasonally adjusted basis, better than the 0.3 percent decline forecast in a Reuters survey. * On an unadjusted basis, prices fell 0.5 percent in March after a 0.9 percent February drop, worse than the estimated 0.4 percent decline. * For the first three months of the year, the national home price index fell 3.2 percent, unadjusted, compared with a 1 percent drop in the fourth quarter. The index was up 2 percent, however, from the same quarter a year ago. * The 20-city index posted a 2.3 percent annual increase in March, near the 2.4 percent forecast.
JAMES COX, MANAGING PARTNER, HARRIS FINANCIAL GROUP, COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VIRGINIA:
Home prices seem to be stabilizing. I think it points to the housing troubles being behind us, but I don't think that points to a really quick reappreciation.
YELENA SHULYATYEVA, ECONOMIST, BNP PARIBAS, NEW YORK
I believe the house prices remain sluggish. The index remained virtually flat but the yearly numbers were higher because of the base effect -- we saw big declines in the last year at that time but we do not expect to see any upward pressure on prices in the near future.
We will receive another housing price indicator today -- FHFA housing price index -- we'll see how that goes.
Overall, I think the housing market has bottomed, but it will remain sluggish. The markets are more concerned about Europe.
DAN COOK, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST AT IG MARKETS IN CHICAGO:
It isn't super-negative, which I guess is a positive. It does suggest that we're keeping a firm grasp of the turnaround, and a negative reading would only add to the chaos. We've got our heads wrapped around so many other issues that most of the data this week is going to be mostly ignored. There's so much going on that it is going to be hard for the markets to hold onto any single piece of data.
MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock index futures were unchanged. BONDS: U.S. Treasury debt prices were little changed. DOLLAR: U.S. dollar rose marginally against the euro.