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The number is out, and it’s good.

House prices rose 0.67% in April according to the S&P Case-Shiller 20 city composite.

That’s well above the sequential 0.3% that was expected.

On an annual basis, the fall was just 1.9%… far better than the fall of 2.5% that was expected.

Here’s some text from the report:

 Data through April 2012, released today by S&P Indices for its S&P/Case- Shiller1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed that on average home prices increased 1.3% in the month of April for both the 10- and 20-City Composites. This comes after seven consecutive months of falling home prices as measured by both indices.

April’s data indicate that on an annual basis home prices fell by 2.2% for the 10-City Composite and by 1.9% for the 20-City Composites, versus April 2011. While still negative, this is an improvement over the annual rates of -2.9% and -2.6% recorded for the month of March 2012. Both Composites and 18 of the 20 MSAs saw increases in annual returns in April compared to those published for March; only Detroit and New York fared worse in April, posting annual returns of +1.2% and -3.8% respectively, falling below their March returns of +3.9% and -3.0%. For the seventh consecutive month, Atlanta posted the only double- digit negative annual return at -17.0%, its 22nd consecutive month of negative annual returns. 10 of the 20 MSAs saw positive annual returns – Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Tampa and Washington D.C. No cities posted new lows in April 2012.

“With April 2012 data, we finally saw some rising home prices,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “On a monthly basis, 19 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites rose in April over March. Detroit was the only city that saw prices fall, down 3.6%. In addition, 18 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites saw better annual rates of return. It has been a long time since we enjoyed such broad- based gains. While one month does not make a trend, particularly during seasonally strong buying months, the combination of rising positive monthly index levels and improving annual returns is a good sign. The 10-City and 20-City Composites each rose by 1.3% for the month and posted annual rates of return of -2.2% and -1.9% compared to April 2011, better than the -2.9% and -2.6% annual rates seen in March 2012.

“We were hoping to see some improvement in April. First, changes in home prices are very seasonal, with the spring and early summer being the most active buying months. Second, while not as strong and we believe less reliable, the seasonally adjusted data were also largely positive, a possible sign that the increase in prices may be due to more than just the expected surge in spring sales. Additionally, the last few months have seen increased sales and housing starts amidst a lot of talk of better housing markets, so some price gains were anticipated.



This is the most important datapoint of the day: The Case-Shiller house price index for April comes out at 9:00 AM ET.

Analysts are looking for a 0.3% sequential increase for April. On a year-over-year basis, that translates to a decline of 2.5%. That would be a tiny improvement from the 2.57% YOY decline seen in March.

Case-Shiller is the gold standard of housing datapoints, and everyone is watching it closely to look for a sign of a turn in the market.

Remember though that this is months old data that can stretch into last year.

We’ll have the numbers here LIVE at 9:00 AM ET.

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