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U.S. home prices rise in January: S&P/Case-Shiller

A house for sale is pictured in Alexandria, Virginia in this March 22, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Molly Riley/Files
A house for sale is pictured in Alexandria, Virginia in this March 22, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Molly Riley/Files

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. single-family home prices rose in January and slightly beat expectations, a closely watched survey said on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas rose 0.8 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis. A Reuters poll of economists had forecast a 0.7 percent rise.

"The housing recovery may have taken a breather due to the cold weather," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, speaking to the 0.1 percent price drop on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

"From the bottom in 2012, prices are up 23 percent and the housing market is showing signs of moving forward with more normal price increases."

An extremely cold winter has been blamed for a spate of soft data in the past few months, though the weather's effects on economic numbers are starting to abate.

"While recent results have been considerably better than those seen earlier in the cycle, and also better than we had anticipated, we have not given up on the argument that a large supply overhang of existing homes promises to keep pressure on prices for some time," said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc in New York in a note.

S&P/Case-Shiller said prices in the 20 cities rose 13.2 percent year over year, just shy of expectations for a 13.3 percent gain.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)

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