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Case-Shiller: third month of price gains

Home prices down 32.6% from 2006 peak

Home prices rose for a third consecutive month in July, and the rate of annual decline continued to shrink for the sixth month in a row, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller home price indices published today.An index tracking prices in 20 metro areas showed prices increased in 18, by an average of 1.6 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Looking back a year, the 20-city composite index was down 13.3 percent -- a smaller drop than the 15.4 percent decline seen in June.The numbers "continue to support an indication of stabilization in national real estate values," David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a statement.But it remains to be seen whether the housing market will weather the possible expiration of a tax credit for first-time homebuyers in November, anticipated higher unemployment rates, and a possible increase in foreclosures, Blitzer said.The 20-city composite index showed prices down 32.6 percent from th...