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Washington (AFP) — U.S. home price gains slowed sharply in April, providing fresh evidence of a weakness in the housing market recovery, the S&P Case-Shiller index showed Tuesday.

The 20-city index of home prices rose at an annual rate of 10.8 percent in April, following the 12.4 percent growth rate posted for March. Month-over-month, the index rose 1.1 percent.

The slowdown was seen in 19 of the 20 cities, with three California cities — Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco — posting hefty price drops of about three percentage points, year-on-year.

Boston was the only city where the price gains picked up pace.

The slowdown was stronger than expected. Analysts on average estimated the 20-city index would post an annual pace of 11.6 percent.

David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee, said that although the annual gains weakened, the month-over-month numbers were strong.

Five cities — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle — had monthly gains of at least two percent.

“Near-term economic factors favor further gains in housing: mortgage rates are lower than a year ago, the Fed is expected to keep interest rates steady until mid-2015, and the labor market is improving,” he said.

“The question is whether housing will bounce back before the Fed begins to tighten some time next year.”

AFP Photo/ Scott Olson

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