The S&P/Case-Shiller index -- a measure for house prices in 20 metropolitan cities in the U.S. -- shows that prices rose in April for the first time in seven months due to the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit program.

The 10-city composite is up 4.6% from April 2009, and the 20-city composite is up 3.8% from last year. Economists expected the index to rise 3.4% in April after jumping 2.3% in March, according to Briefing.com.

On a month-to-month basis, both composites saw an improvement in prices -- the first increase after six straight monthly declines. Compared to March, the 10- and 20-city composites were up 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively in April. Eighteen of the 20 metropolitan areas saw improvement in April over March.

Stock market futures remained in negative territory following big stock market declines in Asia and Europe. Also, many investors are worried that the increase will be just temporary, because the tax credit ended in April.

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