The single-family housing market declined slightly in the third quarter, according to Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp.'s national Market Trends Index.The index stood at 6.58 for the quarter, down from 6.63 in the second quarter and 6.90 a year earlier. The company looked at 73 metropolitan statistical areas and found six to be strong, nine weak, and the rest stable. "Though the number of soft or weak markets has increased from a year ago, almost 80% of the markets are still rated stable," said Neil Siegel, senior market analyst for the Milwaukee-based mortgage insurer. "In addition, the inventory of homes in most markets is still considered to be low." The index uses a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest. MGIC said a reading of 6 to 8 indicates a stable market. MGIC can be found on the Web at http://www.mgic.com.

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