The S&P / Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are considered the leading measure of U.S. home prices. And according to the most recent release, home prices across the country were mostly flat at the end of last year, on both a monthly and annual basis. In fact, the 20-City Composite index showed a price increase of 4.5 percent over last year, up from 4.3 percent. Month-over-month, the 20-City Composite index found an increase of just 0.1 percent. Still, nine of the included cities posted higher monthly figures than on the previous report. David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said there is softness in the housing recovery. “While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, housing construction and new home sales remain weak,” Blitzer said. “The softness in housing is despite favorable conditions elsewhere in the country: strong job growth, a declining unemployment rate, continued low interest rates and positive consumer confidence.” But, though new home sales and construction have lagged behind other economic and housing indicators, there has been significant improvement and most industry analysts believe this year will see continued gains. More here.