The rout in public real-estate stocks continued unabated in the first three months of 2009, as the bottom that some investors thought had appeared at the end of last year turned out to be little more than an illusion.

Real-estate investment trusts staged a big rally at the end of 2008, rising more than 40% in the last six weeks of the year. That partly reversed a 60% plunge and signaled to some optimistic investors that the worst was over for real estate. But in the first quarter, the optimists were crushed by renewed uncertainty about which companies can manage their way through the credit crunch.

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