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Home prices rise 0.6 percent in July

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By Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A national gauge of home prices ticked up in July for the fourth straight month, but many cities are bracing for declines in the year ahead.

The price increases were fueled by now-expired homebuyer tax credits. With the peak buying season over, a record number of foreclosures, job concerns and weak demand from buyers are pushing prices down.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday increased 0.6 percent in July from June. The monthly changes are based on a three-month moving average for May, June and July.

Sales in May and June were inflated by the government tax credits. July had the slowest sales pace in 15 years.

Twelve cities showed monthly price gains, while Cleveland's prices were flat.

However, seven cities showed month-over-month declines and the gains in many cities were weaker from the previous month.

The biggest monthly price increases were in Detroit, New York and Washington. All three cities had price increases of roughly 1 percent.

Las Vegas and Phoenix had the largest declines of 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Nationally, prices have risen almost 7 percent from their April 2009 bottom. But they remain nearly 28 percent below their July 2006 peak.

Most experts predict about 5 million homes will be sold this year. That would be in line with last year and just above 2008, the worst sales performance since 1997.