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WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. home prices continued their steady upward march in February as buyers competed for a limited number of available properties.

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The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.4 percent that month compared with a year earlier. That’s down slightly from January’s 5.7 percent rise.

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Prices are rising even as sales have leveled off in recent months. The number of homes for sale last month was 1.5 percent lower than a year earlier. That’s pushed buyers to act quickly, with homes on the market just 47 days in March, according to the National Realtors’ Association.

The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The February figures are the latest available.

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