Case-Shiller Index Bumps Up Again

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, which tracks residential valuation in 20 major U.S. metro areas, saw a 0.3 percent uptick in January 2010, compared with the previous month. It was the eighth time in a row that the index inched upward, with 12 of the 20 areas registering gains for the month.

March 31, 2010
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user lauren keith

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, which tracks residential valuation in 20 major U.S. metro areas, saw a 0.3 percent uptick in January 2010, compared with the previous month. It was the eighth time in a row that the index inched upward, with 12 of the 20 areas registering gains for the month.

Compared with January 2009, the index is down 0.7 percent last month. Las Vegas saw the biggest drubbing since last year, with its home values down 17.4 percent year-over-year. Other losers are Detroit (down 7.4 percent since last year); Tampa (also down 7.4 percent); Miami (down 6.8 percent); and Seattle (down 6 percent).

But there were also metro areas that saw a rebounding of prices, albeit not to peak 2006 levels (but who would want that anyway?). San Francisco registered a 9.1 percent gain, while San Diego and Los Angeles gained 4.2 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively. Dallas was up 4.2 percent and Washington, DC, was up 3.5 percent.

Consumers Less Glum as Spring Begins

Consumer confidence had a good month in March, according to the latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, released on Tuesday. The Index now stands at 52.5 (1985 = 100), up from 46.4 in February.

“Consumer confidence, which had declined sharply in February, managed to recoup most of the loss in March,” noted Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement. “However [there’s always a ‘however’ these days] despite this month’s increase, consumers continue to express concern about current business and labor market conditions.”

Though few people are giddy about the U.S. economy, consumers’ assessment of conditions was less negative in March, according to the Conference Board. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 42.8 percent from 45.1 percent, while those claiming conditions are “good” increased to 8.6 percent from 6.8 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also less pessimistic. Those saying jobs are “hard to get” declined to 45.8 percent from 47.3 percent, while those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased to 4.4 percent from 4 percent.

Fed’s Fisher Waxes Optimistic, Mostly

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank president Richard Fisher was fairly optimistic on Tuesday as well. “Taken together, anecdotal evidence indicates that, absent some exogenous shock, the recovery that began last summer is unlikely to be reversed and will instead proceed, slowly gathering momentum as we progress through the year,” he said at a conference sponsored by the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.

He wasn’t so cheerful about deficit spending, however. “Even under the most optimistic of scenarios, large deficits will be run for as far as the eye can see,” he said.

Wall Street had a moderate up day on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 11.56 points, or 0.11 percent, while the Nasdaq was up 0.26 percent. The S&P 500 neither gained nor lost ground.