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Home prices at lowest levels since housing bust

/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Home prices are falling across most of America’s largest cities, and average prices in eight major markets have hit their lowest point since the housing bust.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index fell 1.6 percent in November from October. All but one city, San Diego, recorded monthly price declines.

“Everything in this report is still sliding — it’s still pointing downward,” David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, told CNBC Tuesday. “We still seem to be, at best, scraping along the bottom.”

In other economic news Tuesday, the Conference Board said its closely-followed Consumer Confidence Index rose in January to its highest level in eight months with Americans growing a little more confident about the job market and business conditions.

Separately, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose in 20 states last month as employers in most states shed jobs, but it was unchanged in another 15 states. That’s nearly the same as in November, when the rate rose in 21 states, fell in 15 and was the same in 14.

Prices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Tampa have set new lows since home prices peaked in 2006 and 2007.

Over the past year, prices have risen in four major cities. Prices rose 3.5 percent in Washington, the largest gain. Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco also posted gains.

Some of the worst declines came in cities hard hit by foreclosures.

Prices have fallen 1.6 percent in the past year, sharper than the 1.4 percent predicted by economists polled by Reuters.