Consumer confidence in January hit its highest level since September 2008 in data published on Tuesday, but another report showed house prices beginning to slip again after stabilizing last year.

A decline in job losses in recent months and a resurgent stock market have helped improve consumers' mood after the protracted U.S. recession that ended last year.

Yet concerns remain about the sustainability of the recovery after the most severe housing market downturn and highest unemployment in more than a quarter century.

U.S. consumer confidence rose for the third straight month in January, driven mostly by an improvement in present-day conditions, according to a private report released on Tuesday. The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes rose to 55.9 in January from an upwardly revised 53.6 in December.

The median forecast from analysts polled by Reuters was for a January reading of 53.5.

The data on Tuesday also showed consumers' expectations are at their highest in more than two years.

However, U.S. home prices slipped unexpectedly in November in the latest sign that a rebound in the U.S. housing market is tenuous, according to Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller indexes on Tuesday.

The S&P composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas slipped 0.2 percent in November after a revised 0.1 percent October dip, for a 5.3 percent annual drop.

A Reuters survey had forecast a 0.1 percent November rise. Prices were originally reported as unchanged in October.

Housing has been recovering from a three-year slump, driven by a tax credit for first-time buyers and low mortgage rates. A tax credit, which had been scheduled to end in November, was expanded and extended until June. Analysts remain concerned about how able housing will be able to withstand the eventual removal of that prop.

In other news, China's clampdown on bank lending was raising some concerns in financial markets about global economic growth prospects and spurred a flight from riskier assets into the U.S. dollar and Treasury debt which investors typically view as a safe haven asset.

However, the IMF on Tuesday sharply raised its forecast for global growth to 3.9 percent from an October estimate of 3.1 percent.

(Reporting by Lynn Adler and Chris Reese in New York and Lucia Mutikani in Washington; writing by John Parry)