US housing prices picked up in the traditionally hot-sales month of July over June, but not enough to say the market was recovering from its four-year slump, new data showed Tuesday.
Prices across 20 major urban areas rose 0.9 percent in July, but when adjusted for seasonality, they were flat, and still 4.1 percent lower than a year earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.
The trend of four straight months of price rises, on a non-seasonal basis, suggests some strength returning to the market, according to S&P analysts.
"With July's data we are seeing not only anticipated monthly increases, but some fairly broad improvement in the annual rates of change in home prices," said S&P's David Blitzer in a statement.
However, he said, "if you look at the state of the overall economy and, in particular, the recent large decline in consumer confidence, these combined statistics continue to indicate that the housing market is still bottoming and has not turned around."
Unadjusted prices were up in 17 of the 20 metropolitan regions, but year-over-year, only two had improved in July -- Detroit, Michigan, and Washington, DC -- according to the S&P data.
S&P said prices nationwide remained at the level of mid-2003.