House prices declined at a 2.1% annual rate in April, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller national housing index, which covers 20 metropolitan areas.The S&P/CS HPI has declined for 17 straight months, and it went into negative territory in February for the first time in 15 years. Robert Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets LLC, stressed that no region is "immune" from declining single-family house prices and that even healthy markets -- Portland (Ore.), Seattle, and Charlotte (N.C.) -- are seeing "weakening price returns." Separately, Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft told a NeighborWorks foreclosure conference that he is projecting stagnant nationwide house price appreciation of zero to 1% this year. Mortgage Bankers Association vice president Jay Brinkmann said the MBA is more pessimistic and expects a 1% decline in house prices this year. S&P can be found online at http://www.standardandpoors.com.

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