* Monthly new house price rise the biggest since May 2012
* Annual increase breaks 5-month spell of slowing growth
OTTAWA, March 13 Canadian housing prices rose by
0.3 percent in January, the biggest jump for 20 months, on
strong gains in the western Prairie region, Statistics Canada
said on Thursday.
The increase - greater than the 0.1 percent advance forecast
by market analysts - was the largest since the 0.3 percent gain
seen in May 2012.
Prices in the metropolitan region of Calgary, the capital of
Canada's oil industry, jumped by 1.3 percent from December on
higher material and labor costs as well as market conditions.
Elsewhere in the West, prices in Saskatoon rose by 1.4
percent while those in Winnipeg climbed by 0.5 percent.
The Canadian government, which has intervened in the
mortgage market four times since 2008 to cool the sector, has
long expressed concerns the housing market might overheat though
it thinks a soft landing is more likely.
The new housing price index excludes condominiums, which the
government says are a particular cause for concern.
The closely watched Toronto-Oshawa region, which accounts
for 28.01 percent of the entire market, posted a 0.2 percent
increase from December.
Overall, prices were up in five of the 21 metropolitan
regions, down in nine and unchanged in seven. Prices rose 1.5
percent from January 2013, breaking a five-month spell of
slowing year-on-year growth.
Canada's national housing agency announced last month it
would increase its mortgage loan insurance premiums from May 1
to shore up its capital and reduce taxpayers' exposure to the