Canadian housing starts slide in March as coronavirus dampens construction

FILE PHOTO: A row of houses stand in a newly built subdivision in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, Canada, January 30, 2018. Picture taken January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian housing starts fell 7.3% in March compared with the previous month in a sign that the coronavirus outbreak began to impact residential construction activity, data from the national housing agency showed on Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts fell to 195,174 units from a revised 210,574 units in February, with groundbreaking decreasing on multiple unit homes, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) said. Economists had expected starts to fall to 180,000.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Catherine Evans