Finally Good News for Home Prices (XHB)

June 26, 2012 9:41 AM EDT
After seven months of declines, average U.S. home prices increased 1.3 percent in April according to a report by S&P/Case-Shiller.

Prices rose in all 20 cities besides Detroit, which saw a decline of 3.6 percent in April, though still higher by 1.2 percent on the year. The report noted that Atlanta and Phoenix have "contrasting trends". Atlanta continues to be the only city with double-digit negative annual returns (-17.0%), whereas Phoenix fared the best in terms of annual returns at (+8.6%) in April.

"We were hoping to see some improvement in April," said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. "First, changes in home prices are very seasonal, with the spring and early summer being the most active buying months. Second, while not as strong and we believe less reliable, the seasonally adjusted data were also largely positive, a possible sign that the increase in prices may be due to more than just the expected surge in spring sales."

A turn in the housing market, if it lasts, is widely viewed as a huge positive for the battered U.S. economy and for stocks. Homebuilder stocks are especially sensitive to housing data, and traders will likely be tracking SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSE: XHB) today.

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