The February Case Shiller number is out and represents the latest high frequency economic miss, with the 20 City Seasonally Adjusted number printing up 0.15% on expectations of 0.20%. The good news, of course, is that this is the first improvement in the Seasonally Adjusted Top 20 MSA Series since April 2011. The bad news is that this was all warm weather driven, and courtesy of seasonal adjustments: unadjusted the February data declined once again, this time by 0.8%, the 6th consecutive decline in a row, and the lowest number in a decade. Furthermore, the data would be uglier if it were not for prior period downward revisions in what seems to be a page right out of the BLS propaganda playbook. Needless to say, since this data is two months delayed, as many will recall in February the market was soaring on hopes that this time, just once, the "recovery" will be self-sustaining. Then the LTRO aftereffects fizzled, and everything went to hell again. Finally putting it all into perspective, the February data puts the Top 20 City data back on par with price levels last seen in early 2003. But hey - at least we have a very brief and transitory seasonally adjusted upswing.
From the report:
“While there might be pieces of good news in this report, such as some improvement in many annual rates of return, February 2012 data confirm that, broadly-speaking, home prices continued to decline in the early months of the year,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “Nine MSAs -- Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa -- and both Composites hit new post-crisis lows. Atlanta continued its downward spiral, posting its lowest annual rate of decline in the 20-year history of the index at -17.3%. The 10-City Composite declined 3.6% and the 20-City was down 3.5% compared to February 2011.
“Due to delays in reporting for Mecklenburg County, we did not publish a January index level for Charlotte, North Carolina last month. With this month’s report we have enough data to publish data points for both January and February. The unfortunate news is that it confirms that Charlotte is one of the cities that is still reaching new lows.
Charting the monthly change:
And the 5-month drop in house prices is its highest since mid 2009...