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Home Prices Rise, But Seasonal Factors Played Big Role

Home prices have risen in major U.S. cities for the first time in more than half a year, according to the widely watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

But it's too soon to say that the ailing housing sector is on the mend.

The new report, which tracks prices through April, shows "a monthly increase in prices ... for the first time in eight months" across indexes in key cities.

June 9, 2011 file photo: a "sold" sign in Seattle. Elaine Thompson/AP hide caption

toggle caption Elaine Thompson/AP

June 9, 2011 file photo: a "sold" sign in Seattle.

Elaine Thompson/AP

"In a welcome shift from recent months, this month is better than last — April's numbers beat March," David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices, says in a statement issued with the report.

"However," he adds, "the seasonally adjusted numbers show that much of the improvement reflects the beginning of the Spring-Summer home buying season. It is much too early to tell if this is a turning point or simply due to some warmer weather."

Indeed, while the indices' 10-city composite index rose 0.8 percent before being seasonally adjusted, it was unchanged when adjusted to account for normal seasonal effects. And the 20-city composite index, which was up 0.7 percent before adjustment, was down 0.1 percent afterward.

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