March housing starts compensate for February weakness

by Ephraim Vecina12 Apr 2019

The number of new homes in Canada last month helped offset the major slowdown experienced by markets nationwide in February.

Latest numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation showed that on a seasonally adjusted basis, national starts went up to 192,527 units in March, far outstripping the 166,290 units the month prior.

Although the March data did not reach the 196,500 annual pace earlier predicted by economists, as polled by Thomson Reuters Eikon, the six-month moving average was at 202,279 (compared to February’s 202,039).

Multi-residential buildings like apartments, condominiums, and townhouses gave massive boosts to new construction volume, with urban multiple-unit starts increasing by 18.6% in March to reach 135,894 units.

Meanwhile, single-detached urban starts grew by 12.1% to 42,139 units. Rural starts were measured at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14,494 units.

“There’s no doubt the Canadian housing market has slowed in the past year, but the latest data on construction suggests the downward trend is stabilizing,” BMO Capital Markers senior economist Sal Guatieri stated earlier this week, as quoted by The Canadian Press.

“We still see starts hovering around, or even just above, 200,000 this year, marking a small step back from last year while remaining historically high.”

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