Canada home prices fall 2.4 pct in January -report

TORONTO, March 25 (Reuters) - Canadian home prices fell 2.4 percent in January from a year earlier, reinforcing views that the property market was cooling, according to the a report issued on Wednesday.

The Teranet-National Bank National Composite House Price Index, which measures the rate of change of prices for single-family homes in six metropolitan areas, showed prices were down 5.5 percent nationally from the peak hit in August last year.

Home prices in Calgary, Alberta, suffered the biggest year over year drop, falling 8.2 percent in January from the same month a year earlier. That was followed by a 4.2 percent slide in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a 2.4 percent fall in Toronto.

Meanwhile, home prices in Ottawa were up 2.1 percent, while they rose 1.2 percent in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Montreal, showed a deceleration but maintained a 12-month price increase of 4.1 percent.

On a month to month basis, national house prices were off 1.6 percent in January, following a 1.4 percent slide in December.

Confidence in the housing market has eroded due to the global financial crisis and the economic downturn. Market watchers say current price declines are part of an ongoing correction since the market hit its peak in 2007.

Housing activity, including resales and groundbreakings, is generally seeing a period of softness in Canada, though there has not been the same plunge in the sector that has been seen in the United States.

Earlier this month, the Canadian Real Estate Association said the average home price fell 9.2 percent to C$281,972 ($229,245) in February from C$310,379 a year earlier. Prices were lower in 14 of 25 major markets that the association measures, with the biggest drops in Vancouver, Calgary, and Windsor, Ontario.

$1=$1.23 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson