Home prices fell at a substantially slower pace in January, new data out of Standard & Poor's shows.

Prices in the 20 cities making up the key composite fell 0.04 percent, better than analyst expectations for a 0.3 percent drop. In December, prices dropped 0.47 percent.

Compared to year-ago levels, sellers are getting about 3.78 percent less today. That is marginally better than consensus opinion on the Street, which forecast a decline of 3.8 percent.

“Despite some positive economic signs, home prices continued to drop. The 10- and 20- City Composites and eight cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa – made new lows,” said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P. 

Three of the 20 markets tracked by Standard & Poor's saw price increases in January, with 16 cities seeing prices fall between -0.4 and -2.5 percent. Miami, Phoenix and Washington logged increases. Data was not available for the Charlotte market. 

“Atlanta continues to stand out in terms of recent relative weakness," Blitzer said. "It was down 2.1% over the month, and has fallen by a cumulative 19.7% over the last six months. It also posted the worst annual return, down 14.8%.

Below, data from S&P.






Minutes away from the first of three major data points of the day: the Case-Shiller home price index.

Economists polled by Bloomberg are looking for a 0.3 percent sequential drop, which would represent a deceleration from December's 0.5 percent decline.

If that holds, it would mean home prices in the 20 city composite are 3.8 percent lower than where they were one year ago. 

The main index is expected to decline to 135.80 from 136.71.

Standard and Poor's will release the data at 9:00 a.m. EST. Follow the announcement live here >