Economic digest: Home prices up 12.8% over 2012

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:00 am

WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices rose in August from a year earlier at the best pace since February 2006. But the price gains slowed in many cities from July, a sign that the spike in prices over the past year may have peaked.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 12.8 percent over the 12 months ending in August. That’s up from 12.4 percent in July from a year earlier. All 20 cities showed year-over-year gains.

However, a measure of month-over-month prices for the 20 cities rose just 1.3 percent in August. That’s down from a 1.8 percent month-over-month gain in July. And 16 of the 20 cities reported more modest price increases in August than in July. — AP

WASHINGTON — A big decline in food costs helped hold down wholesale prices in September, contributing to a 0.1 percent decline, the first drop since April.

The slight dip followed a 0.3 percent rise in prices in August, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

Wholesale food prices fell 1 percent, led by a plunge in vegetable prices. The lower food costs helped offset a 0.5 percent rise in energy prices. That increase reflected higher prices for home heating oil, diesel fuel and natural gas.

Gasoline prices, which had shot up 2.6 percent in August, dipped 0.1 percent in September.

Excluding volatile food and energy, so-called core prices rose a slight 0.1 percent in September and have risen a modest 1.2 percent over the past 12 months. — AP

WASHINGTON — Americans’ confidence in the economy fell this month to the lowest level since April, as many worried about the impact of a 16-day partial government shutdown.

The decline could weigh on spending and economic growth.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its index of consumer confidence dropped to 71.2 in October, down from 80.2 the previous month. September’s figure was revised slightly higher. — AP

WASHINGTON — Retail sales in the U.S. outside of auto dealers climbed in September, indicating households were sustaining the economic expansion before the government shutdown shook confidence.

The 0.4 percent gain in purchases excluding vehicles followed a 0.1 percent increase in August and matched the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, Commerce Department figures showed Tuesday in Washington. Total sales dropped 0.1 percent, restrained by the biggest decrease at auto dealers since October 2012, as purchases early in the month were included in the August data.

Americans snapped up the newest cellular phones and video games last month as low borrowing costs and rising household wealth backed by improving home and stock prices gave them the wherewithal to sustain demand. At the same time, the 16-day partial closing of federal agencies may have upended spending this month as consumers grew increasingly concerned it would hurt the world’s largest economy. — Bloomberg News

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