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US home prices fell 18% from last year

  Prices of US single-family homes fell 18.6% in February from a year earlier but the rapid pace of decline slowed, perhaps indicating the housing market may be nudging closer to a bottom, according to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released on Tuesday.

The composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 2.2% in February from January, S&P said in a statement. The depreciation on a month-over-month was above expectations based on a Reuters survey of economists, but below on a year-over-year basis. The 20-city index dates back to 2000.

Of the 20 metro areas, 10 showed record rates of annual decline, and 15 reported declines in excess of 10% versus February 2008.

S&P said its composite index of 10 metropolitan areas declined 2.1% in February from January for an 18.8% year-over-year drop. The 10-city index dates to 1988. For the first time in 16 months, the annual decline of the 10-city and 20-city composites did not set a record.

“While the declines in residential real estate continued into February, we witnessed some deceleration in the rate of decline in some of the markets,” David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, said in a statement. (The Economic Times)