Economy Watch: Case-Shiller: Continued Residential Price Hikes; Retail Sales Dip

The latest Case-Shiller home price indexes indicated rising prices in several markets. And national retail and food services sales for September decreased, slightly, by 0.1 percent compared to the previous month.

Standard & Poor’s released the latest Case-Shiller home price indexes on Tuesday, and as expected, they indicated rising prices in a lot of markets. But since the indexes are a three-month average ending in August, the more recent slowdown in price growth – as seen in reports that cover until September — might not be reflected in Case-Shiller until later.

In any case, both the 10-city and 20-city composite indexes increased 12.8 percent year over year. Compared to July 2013, the annual growth rates accelerated for both composites and 14 cities, with the 10-city and 20-city composites gaining 1.3 percent in August. Las Vegas led the cities with an increase of 2.9 percent for the month, its highest since August 2004. Detroit and Los Angeles followed with gains of 2 percent.

“Both composites showed their highest annual increases since February 2006,” David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. “All 20 cities reported positive year-over-year returns. Thirteen cities posted double-digit annual gains. Las Vegas and California continue to impress with year-over-year increases of more than 20 percent. Despite showing 26 consecutive annual gains, Detroit remains the only city below its January 2000 index level.”

Retail Sales See Small Dip

The Census Bureau reported on Tuesday that U.S. retail and food services sales for September–adjusted for seasonal variations and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes–came in at an annualized $425.9 billion. That’s a decrease of 0.1 percent from the previous month, but 3.2 percent above September 2012.

September sales at brick-and-mortar retailers were generally sluggish compared with August, showing a drop of 0.2 percent, but year over year recorded an increase of 3.1 percent. Non-store sales–that is, mostly Internet-based sales–continued their upward trend, increasing 8.9 percent compared with September 2012.

Naturally, some retail sectors did better than others in September. Food service and watering holes were up 0.9 percent for the month, while food and beverage stores (including grocery stores) were also up 0.9 percent. Auto sales dropped 2.4 percent, and department stores saw a decline of 0.9 percent. Gas sales were precisely flat for the month.

Wall Street enjoyed an up day on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 111.42 points, or 0.72 percent. The S&P 500 was up 0.56 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.31 percent.