A national home price index fell 1.4 percent in the first quarter compared to the same quarter last year, and a separate 20-city index dropped 1.4 percent for the month of March compared to March 2006. It was the second time in the history of the index that the annual national growth rate was negative -- the first time was in 1990-91. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index, which tracks the value of single-family housing for the nine U.S. Census divisions, dropped 0.7 percent in the first quarter compared to fourth-quarter 2006. "The fall of the national index into negative territory, after more than 15 years of positive annual growth, is a reaffirmation of the pullback in the U.S. residential real estate market," said Robert J. Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets LLC, in a statement. MacroMarkets owns licensing rights for the indices. "The national index was yielding solid returns as recently as a year ago." He noted that first-quarter-2006 growth rate...
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