Canada January new home prices lifted by Toronto, Vancouver

A construction worker works on a new house being built in a suburb located north of Toronto in Vaughan, Canada, June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian new home prices rose in January, driven by higher costs in Vancouver and Toronto, data from Statistics Canada showed on Thursday, highlighting the ongoing strength of the country’s hottest markets.

The national 0.1 percent price gain fell slightly short of economists’ expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent. The new housing price index excludes apartments and condominiums, which the government says are a particular cause for concern and which account for one-third of new housing.

Vancouver was the top contributor with a 0.4 percent gain, making for the city’s eighth consecutive increase. Builders cited new listing prices and market conditions as the main reasons for January’s gain.

The combined region of Toronto and Oshawa, where prices have been increasing for the last year, saw a 0.2 percent rise with builders pointing to similar factors as in Vancouver.

But prices were either lower or unchanged in two-thirds of the metropolitan areas covered in the survey, including Calgary, where prices were flat.

Canada’s housing sector has accelerated in the years since the financial crisis but a more trifurcated market has emerged lately with energy-sensitive areas slowing, Toronto and Vancouver gaining and the rest of the country plodding along.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr Editing by W Simon