Data released earlier this week by Standard & Poor's for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices in the United States, shows flat returns in certain markets and the continued slowdown in growth in others during the month of December. The 10-City Composite Index has decelerated to no growth since December 2005, its lowest level since March 1996. The 20-City and U.S. National Indices have also continued to decelerate, with year-over-year growth rates of just 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively. â€œAnnual changes in home prices are either in decline, flat or yielding negative returns across all markets,â€? says Robert J. Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets LLC and co-founder of the index that bears his name. â€œAll metro areas are showing smaller annual returns than those reported for November. The newly-published US National Index, which has historically portrayed less volatile increases and declines, joins the other two composites in the steep decline that began in 2005, falling 0.7% over the quarter and ending the year at just 0.4% annual growth.â€? Standard & Poor's recently began publishing a national composite index based on the individual MSAs benchmarked by the Case-Shiller indices. New York joined the ranks for metro areas in negative territory yielding a â€“0.1 percent annual return, a sharp drop against the 15.3 percent gain reported in April 2005. But the news isn't bad everywhere: Seattle and Portland, which have shown some resilience against steep declines, continue to experience diminishing but relatively healthy returns, ending the year at 12.1 percent and 9.9 percent respectively. But outside of those two, the numbers aren't very positive. 18 out of the 20 metro areas, as well as the two composite indices (10-city and 20-city) showed negative returns from those published at the end of the third quarter of 2006. For more information, visit http://www.standardandpoors.com.