House prices declined at a 1.4% annual rate in the first quarter, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller national housing index, which registered its first quarterly decline in 15 years."The fall of the national index into negative territory after more than 15 years of positive annual growth is a reaffirmation of the pullback in the U.S. residential real estate market," said Robert Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets LLC. In the first quarter of 2006, house prices were increasing at an 11.5% annual rate. Thirteen of the 20 metropolitan areas tracked by S&P/Case-Shiller experienced annual declines in prices. "Most cities are moving deeper into negative terrain," the March report said. "Detroit and San Diego are yielding the largest annual declines, at 8.4% and 6.0%, respectively." Phoenix and Las Vegas had annual price declines of 3% and 1.6% in the first quarter.

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