UPDATE 2-Canadian home price index rises in January

Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:55pm EDT

* Resale index rises 0.1 pct in January from December
    * First monthly increase since October
    * Seven of 11 metropolitan markets up
    * Prices up 6.5 pct from year earlier


    TORONTO, March 28 (Reuters) - Canadian home resale prices edged up in
January from December after two months of declines as the big Toronto market
showed strength but Vancouver continued to falter, the Teranet-National Bank
Composite House Price Index showed on Wednesday.	
    The index, which measures price changes for repeat sales of single-family
homes, showed overall prices rose just 0.1 percent in January from December but
were up 6.5 percent from a year earlier. It does not provide actual prices.	
    Prices increased in seven of 11 metropolitan markets surveyed. Halifax, Nova
Scotia, led gains, climbing 0.7 percent, followed closely by the heavily
weighted Toronto market, which rose 0.6 percent. Victoria, British Columbia,
shrugged off three straight monthly declines to edge up 0.4 percent. Winnipeg,
Manitoba, nudged up 0.2 percent - its 11th monthly gain in the past year. 	
    Western markets accounted for most of the declines, with January prices
falling 1.1 percent in Edmonton, Alberta. More cooling was seen in the once
red-hot Vancouver market, which fell 0.3 percent to log its fourth consecutive
monthly decrease. Calgary slid 0.3 percent.	
    The Teranet data was in line with recent Statistics Canada data that showed
new home prices edged up 0.1 percent in January from December, the 10th
consecutive monthly increase. 	
    A majority of forecasters surveyed by Reuters in February expected home
prices to stall with a mere 0.1 percent climb this year. They forecast the same
increase in 2013. 	
    Canadian policymakers and economists have fretted about rising housing
prices as household debt levels have soared. The ratio of debt to personal
disposable income hit a record 151.9 percent last year.	
    Ten of the 11 markets surveyed by Teranet showed price increases from 12
months earlier. Leading the way was Toronto, up 9.9 percent, Winnipeg at 9
percent, Hamilton, Ontario, at 7.9 percent, and Vancouver, which jumped 7
percent. Victoria was the only market where prices dropped, falling 0.1 percent.	
    Teranet said the latest February data from the Canadian Real Estate
Association showed "generally balanced" conditions in major urban markets,
although there was increased tightening in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto,
Hamilton, Winnipeg and Halifax.	
    The index tracks home prices over time for repeat sales, so properties with
at least two sales are required in the calculations. 	
    The Teranet index is similar to the U.S. S&P/Case-Shiller home price index.
It lags other home resale data by about six weeks.	
    The market has been sustained by ultra-low interest rates since the
financial crisis began in 2008, and the Bank of Canada is widely expected to
keep its main policy rate at its current 1 percent target until the third
quarter of 2013 as global economic growth remains subdued. 	
    Low rates should continue to boost the Canadian housing market, but a more
positive global economic outlook could lead to higher rates sooner than
forecast, Mazen Issa, Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, said in a
research note.	
    "The implication is that the housing market could correct sooner," he said.
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