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Home prices increase

Home prices kept rising in July across the United States, buoyed by greater sales and fewer foreclosures.

National home prices increased 1.2 per cent in July, compared to the same month last year, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index released Tuesday. That's the second straight year-over-year gain after two years without one.

The report also says prices rose in July from June in all 20 cities tracked by the index. That's the third straight month in which prices rose in every city.

Steady price increases and record-low mortgage rates are helping drive a housing recovery.

Prices in the Phoenix, one of the cities hardest hit by the housing bust, have increased 16.6 per cent in the 12 months ending in July. Prices in Minneapolis and Detroit have risen more than 6 per cent.

"We are more optimistic about housing," David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P's index committee. "Stronger housing numbers are a positive factor for other measures, including consumer confidence."

The S&P/Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The July figures are the latest available.

Other measures of home prices are showing steady gains. CoreLogic, a private real estate data provider, said earlier this month that prices rose in July from a year earlier by the most in six years. And a federal government housing agency has also reported annual increases.

Rising home prices are one of many signs that the housing market is slowly recovering.

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