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Price Index Tells Us We're Standing on Wobbly Legs, But SF's OK

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The Case-Shiller index of metropolitan home prices has hit again, which means it's also time for another game of "how to read the numbers." Though they all say more or less the same thing, major media outlets differed in their initial read on October's numbers. There's "prices rose for the fifth month in a row" (Bloomberg), "home-price declines slowed in October" (WSJ), and the ever ominous New York Times with "some disquieting signs of deterioration" underneath the "modest" rise in home prices. Without a seasonal adjustment, they say, the numbers flatten out the modest rise, pointing to another possible slowdown in housing. (Dow Jones Newswire: "winter chill, but not housing doom" Phew.) Compared to October of last year, the index is down 7.3 percent. Slightly warming news for our neck of the woods, as the San Francisco area posted a 1.7 percent gain over the previous month, and a 25 percent gain over the previous year.
· Slight Rise in Home Prices Masks Signs of Weakness [NYT]
· Home prices are flat for second month in a row [LAT]
· Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Rose for Fifth Month [Bloomberg]