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JPMorgan expects further drop in home prices

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Home prices could dip another 6% to 7%, before hitting rock bottom in early 2012, according to analysts at JPMorgan Chase (JPM). If that is the case, prices will fall about 37% from peak levels reached before the 2008 housing meltdown. In the banking giant's September home price monitor report, analysts said the outlook is bleak, noting persistently weak housing demand. The firm said existing home sales in July hit a disappointing annualized pace of 4.67 million units, while mortgage applications plunged 14% in August. JPMorgan Chase analysts warned policymakers are running out of tools to boost housing demand. The fed funds rate has been near zero for a few years, and  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has committed to keeping the rate low through 2013. However on Thursday, Bernanke said the central bank is prepared to use several tools to boost the economy. But GDP estimates for the first half of 2011 were revised lower to anemic levels, and analysts have ratcheted projections lower, as well. JPMorgan analysts forecast a home sales pace of 5 million housing units for 2011, but remain cautious saying the estimate may move toward the downside. Write to: Kerri Panchuk.

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