Canadian home prices rise in February at double the historical pace

TORONTO, March 18 (Reuters) - Canadian home prices rose in February at a faster than usual pace for the month, led by gains for the metropolitan areas of Montreal and Vancouver, data showed on Wednesday.

The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed prices climbed 0.4% last month, which was double the average rise of the last 10 months of February.

Seven of the 11 metropolitan areas in the index showed gains, with Montreal rising 1.1% and Vancouver up 0.8%.

Compared with the same month a year ago, the index climbed 2.9%, led by the capital region of Ottawa-Gatineau. The year-over-year gain accelerated for the seventh straight month and was the strongest since December 2018.

On Monday, Canada’s biggest banks said they would reduce their prime rates by 50 basis points to 2.95%, the lowest level since August 2017, fully passing on to borrowers the Bank of Canada’s second interest rate cut this month. But the pace of activity in the housing market could still slow due to coronavirus outbreak. (Reporting by Fergal Smith Editing by Nick Zieminski)