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WASHINGTON (AFP) – U.S. single-family home prices continued to rise in July but at a slightly slower monthly pace, according to a key survey released Tuesday.

The S&P Case-Shiller 20-city composite home price index rose 1.8 percent from June, decelerating from June’s 2.2 percent monthly increase.

Home prices in all 20 metropolitan areas increased in July from June, the pace of price rises in 15 cities slowed.

Year on year, the index rose 12.4 percent from July 2012, stronger than analysts’ forecast of a 12.0 percent increase.

Home prices have held their 12 percent annual gain since April.

Average home prices across the United States were back to their spring 2004 levels, well before the 2006 price bubble collapsed.

The southwest, one of the worst-hit areas when the market collapsed, continued to lead the housing recovery, though prices still remained far below their bubble peaks.

Las Vegas home prices were up 27.5 percent in July from a year ago and San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego all posted gains of 20 percent or more.

David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee, noted that more cities were experiencing slow gains each month than the previous month, suggesting that the rate of increase may have peaked.

“Following the increase in mortgage rates beginning last May, applications for mortgages have dropped, suggesting that rising interest rates are affecting housing,” Blitzer said.

Blitzer said the Federal Reserve’s announcement last week that it would keep buying $85 billion in bonds a month “may have only a limited, though favorable, impact on housing.”

Photo Credit: AFP/Joe Raedle

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