Economy Watch: Case-Shiller Shows Smaller Home Price Rises; Consumers Peppier in July

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are following a pattern of slower increases. The Consumer Confidence Index improved once again in July.

 By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

According to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which were released on Tuesday by S&P Dow Jones Indices, the 10-city and 20-city composite indexes were up 9.4 percent and 9.3 percent year over year respectively in May, down from 10.9 percent and 10.8 percent in April. That’s still an increase, but the indexes are following the recent pattern of slower increases. In fact, 18 of the 20 cities saw lower annual gains in May than in April: only Charlotte and Tampa saw their annual rates increase.

Month over month, Case-Shiller’s 10-city and 20-city composites increased 1.1 percent each in May. All 20 cities experienced increases, with Charlotte up 1.4 percent (its highest gain in more than a year). Tampa was up 1.8 percent for the month, and San Francisco and Chicago gained 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. Phoenix and San Diego were the only cities to gain less than 1 percent for the month (0.4 percent and 0.5 percent).

“Housing has been turning in mixed economic numbers in the last few months,” David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, noted in a statement. “Prices and sales of existing homes have shown improvement while construction and sales of new homes continue to lag. At the same time, the broader economy and especially employment are showing larger improvements and substantial gains.”

Consumers Peppier in July 

The Conference Board reported on Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index, which had improved in June, improved once again in July. The Index now stands at 90.9 (1985 = 100), up from 86.4 in June. The Present Situation Index increased from 86.3 to 88.3, while the Expectations Index rose from 86.4 to 92.7 in June.

Consumers claiming business conditions are “good” edged down to 22.7 percent from 23.4 percent, while those stating business conditions are “bad” was virtually unchanged at 22.7 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was more optimistic. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” increased from 14.6 percent to 15.9 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” remained unchanged at 30.7 percent.

“Consumer confidence increased for the third consecutive month and is now at its highest level since October 2007,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. (It was 95.2 at that time). “Strong job growth helped boost consumers’ assessment of current conditions, while brighter short-term outlooks for the economy and jobs, and to a lesser extent personal income, drove the gain in expectations. Recent improvements in consumer confidence, in particular expectations, suggest the recent strengthening in growth is likely to continue into the second half of this year.”

Wall Street ended the day down on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average off 70.48 points, or 0.42 percent. The S&P 500 dropped 0.54 percent, but the Nasdaq lost only 0.05 percent.