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Canadian home prices rise 0.2% in December, led by central and eastern Canada

TORONTO, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Canadian home prices rose in December, helped by gains for some metropolitan areas in the central and eastern parts of the country, data showed on Monday.

The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed prices rose 0.2% last month from November.

“This was a good showing for a month of December, equaled or bettered in only three of the last 13 years,” said Marc Pinsonneault, a senior economist at National Bank of Canada.

Six of the 11 metropolitan areas in the index showed increases, all of which are in central or eastern Canada.

It was led by a 0.7% gain for Halifax, the capital of the province of Nova Scotia. Toronto and Montreal, Canada’s two most populous cities, were both up 0.4%.

In contrast, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, all in the prairies, lost ground on the month, while both Vancouver and Victoria, on the west coast, were flat.

After adjusting for seasonality, the index was up for the fifth straight month after six straight declines from February through July.

“The underlying trend of the index was a return of strength in the second half of the year after a shaky first half,” Pinsonneault said.

The Bank of Canada, which is due to make an interest rate decision and update its economic outlook on Wednesday, has pointed to housing activity as a source of resilience in the Canadian economy.

Compared with the same month a year ago, the index gained 1.9%, with the pace accelerating for the fifth straight month. (Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Diane Craft)