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U.S. consumer confidence near six-year high, home prices rise

A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Yo
A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Yo

By Rodrigo Campos and Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer confidence dipped in April but remained near a six-year high, while home prices rose in February, suggesting the economy continued to regain momentum after a winter lull.

The Conference Board said its index of consumer attitudes dipped to 82.3, the second-highest reading since January 2008, from an upwardly revised 83.9 in March.

An unusually cold and snowy winter disrupted economic activity early in the year.

The expectations index rose to its highest since August, hitting 84.9 in April from an upwardly revised 84.8 in March, while the present situation index fell to 78.3 versus an upwardly revised 82.5 last month.

"While sentiment regarding current conditions may have slipped a bit, consumers do not foresee the economy, or the labor market, losing the momentum that has been building up over the past several months," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.

A separate report showed the S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas rose 0.8 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, beating the expectation for a 0.7 percent gain according to a Reuters survey.

The monthly price increase mirrored the one in January, while prices were up 12.9 percent from a year ago, compared with a year-on-year gain of 13.2 percent in January.

The rise, however, failed to offset other recent data pointing to a loss of momentum in housing.

"Despite continued price gains, most other housing statistics are weak," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, who cited new and existing home sales data.

An index of housing sector stocks slipped 0.3 percent Tuesday and is down 10 percent from its 2014 high set in late February

Data last week showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes tumbled to their lowest level in eight months in March, dashing hopes for a quick turnaround in the sector.

(Reporting Rodrigo Campos and Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Dan Grebler)

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