* Housing starts rise to 192,094 in Feb
* Six-month moving average 192,236
By Leah Schnurr
TORONTO, March 10 Canadian housing starts rose
more than expected in February, data released on Monday showed,
but the modest increase did not sway economists' expectations
that the country's housing market will cool this year.
The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts
rose to 192,094 units last month from a upwardly revised 180,481
in January, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC) said.
That topped expectations for an increase to 189,500.
Activity had decreased in January due to unusually harsh
winter weather and the rebound in February suggested some of the
weather-related impact was starting to wash out of the economic
The six-month moving average showed housing starts stood at
192,236 units. Since August 2013, the trend has remained in a
range between 185,000 and 195,000, in line with CMHC's outlook
for a stable housing market this year, the report said.
A booming Canadian housing market in recent years prompted
fears of a U.S.-style collapse, but Canada has so far avoided
such a correction. The Canadian government intervened four times
to tighten mortgage rules, which has helped rein in the market.
Most economists believe an increase in borrowing costs this
year and an economy that is growing only modestly will lead to a
softer but stable market in 2014.
"We remain of the view that construction activity will edge
lower over the course of the year as the forecasted increase in
interest rates should restrain demand," said David Tulk, chief
Canada macro strategist at TD Securities in Toronto.
"A smaller contribution from the housing market is
consistent with the macro theme of domestic fatigue that will
leave headline growth at or below its trend rate until net
exports are able find their footing both in response to a weaker
currency and a fundamentally stronger US economy."
Urban starts increased by 7.5 percent to 175,584 in
February. Multiple urban starts surged by 13.3 percent to
116,458, while single-detached urban starts decreased by 2.4
percent to 59,126.
Activity increased in urban centers in Quebec and in the
Atlantic region, was stable in Ontario, and decreased in the
Prairie provinces and British Columbia.