Home prices keep heading higher, but at a slower rate, according to a July S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index report (link opens as PDF) released today. 

After jumping up 0.9% for June, the index's seasonally adjusted 20-city home price composite showed slightly slower growth for July at 0.6%. Analysts were disappointed by the news, having set their sights higher at 0.8% growth. 

All 20 cities analyzed in the index showed monthly gains for the fourth straight month in a row, although 15 cities registered slower growth for July than in June. 

"Home prices gains are holding their 12% annual rate of gain established by the two Composite indices in April," noted David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement today. "The Southwest continues to lead the housing recovery. Las Vegas home prices are up 27.5% year-over-year; in California, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego are up 24.8%, 20.8% and 20.4% respectively. However, all remain far below their peak level."

Blitzer also stated that rising mortgage rates seem to be adversely affecting the housing market. Looking ahead, the Chairman noted that although the Fed's announcement last week that it will continue to buy bonds should boost the housing market, its overall effects will be "limited."

Year-over-year, U.S. home prices were up 12.4% in July compared with July 2012 in the 20-city index, the largest YOY increase sine February 2006. Since bottoming out in March 2012, home prices have rebounded about 21%. They remain about 22% below the peak reached in July 2006.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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