Home sales may be up, but prices most certainly are not--at least through March--according to the latest data from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, released Tuesday morning. Home builder stocks bucked the news, however, on better-than-expected consumer confidence data, which sent the group up with overall consumer discretionary shares.

As of March, average home prices across the country have fallen to fourth-quarter, 2002 levels, a decline of 32.2% from the home-price peak in the second quarter of 2006.

The overall U.S. National Home Price Index fell 19.1% in the first quarter of 2009 versus the same period last year, the largest decline in the 21-year history of the indices, and was down 7.5% from the fourth quarter of 2008. The 10-City and 20-City Composites recorded annual declines of 18.6% and 18.7%, respectively. The good news was that these were slight improvements from February.

"We see no evidence that a recovery in home prices had begun," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's.

The impact of the financial crisis and resulting recession on Wall Street, banks and the media business became evident in New York, the nation's largest market, which saw home prices drop 2.5% from February to March and 11.8% below a year earlier. That was mild compared to Minneapolis, which saw a month-to-month drop of 6.1%, 23.3% year-over-year, the largest monthly decline for any market in the history of the indices. And Detroit, which had long since fallen below the index base of 100 set in January of 2000, slid another 4.9% sequentially and 25.7% year-over-year to a index of 70.98, equivalent to midyear 1995.

"We see no evidence that a recovery in home prices had begun," said David M.Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's.

There were bright spots in the report. Nine of the 20 MSAs improved relatively in year-over-year returns and and another nine showed improvement in the month-to-month comparison. S&P said this was the second month since October 2007 in which the 10- and 20-City Composites did not post a record annual decline.

Charlotte and Denver actually posted month-to-month increases of 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively, and Dallas, which has fared the bast among all markets with only an 11.6% decline from peak, was flat sequentially. Denver, Dallas and Boston continued as the markets with the lowest annual declines, down 5.5%, 5.6% and 8.0%, respectively. Washington D.C. was off only 1.2% from February, an improvement from the 2.3% decline from January to February, and is down 18.4% year-over-year.

The Sunbelt continued foundering, with Phoenix down 4.5% from February and leading all markets with an annual decline of 36%. Home prices in Phoenix are now 6.8% above the January 2000 baseline and 53% below their peak. Las Vegas took another 3.8% hit and was down 31.2% from a year ago, more than 50% off peak. Miami dropped another 3.5% sequentially and is 28.7% off last March. Tampa fell 2.7% month-to-month and 22.4% year-over-year.

San Francisco is now suffering similar rates of decline as the Southern California cities saw last year, with home prices down 2.2% from February and 30.1% from the same month last year. Los Angeles was down 1.4% sequentially and 22.3% year-over-year; San Diego down 1.5% and 22% respectively.

Cleveland joined Detroit as the only markets to have fallen below the January 2000 index baseline of 100 as prices dropped another 0.9% sequentially and 9% year-over-year to an index of 96.86. Atlanta is not far behind at an index of 104.9 even though its declines of 1.7% month-to-month and 15.7% annually were relatively modest.

All of the 20 metro areas are in double digit declines from their peaks, with ten of the MSAs posting declines of greater than 30%.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.