UPDATE 1-Canada housing starts climb in February

Fri Mar 8, 2013 8:43am EST

TORONTO, March 8 (Reuters) - Canadian housing starts climbed in February as multi-family construction rebounded in Ontario and Quebec, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp said on Friday in a report that nevertheless showed the housing market is continuing to moderate.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts was 180,719 units in February, up from 158,998 in January. The January figure was revised down from the 160,577 units reported previously.

The number of starts in February was slightly above the 175,000 starts expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.

The six-month trend level in housing starts was 195,087, continuing a downward slope that began in the middle of 2012, when Canada's red-hot housing market peaked.

"The trend in total housing starts continued to moderate in February. Moderation in economic fundamentals in the second half of 2012 has led to more modest housing demand and builders are adjusting accordingly," Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist at CMHC, said in a statement.

The bounce-back in the standalone monthly rate of housing starts was fueled by a rebound in Ontario and Quebec starts in multi-family homes, typically condos.

Urban starts rose 18.4 percent in February to 161,631 units, led by a 27.7 percent increase in multiple urban starts to 99,022 units. Single urban starts rose 6.1 percent to 62,609 units in February, the CMHC said.

Urban starts rose 46.8 percent in Ontario, 34.9 percent in Quebec, 2.1 percent in British Columbia and 1.5 percent in the Prairies. Urban starts slumped 31.7 percent in Atlantic Canada.

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