Canadian home prices climb in March, paced by Ottawa-Gatineau

FILE PHOTO: A real estate for sale sign stands in front of a row of houses in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, Canada, January 30, 2018. Picture taken January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian home prices rose at a brisk pace in March, led by the capital region of Ottawa-Gatineau, data showed on Monday, even as measures taken to contain the coronavirus outbreak pummeled economic activity.

The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures changes for repeat sales of single-family homes, showed prices were up 0.6% in March from February.

The price gain was double the average rise for March over the last 10 years, said Marc Pinsonneault, a senior economist at National Bank of Canada.

Prices rose in seven of the 11 metropolitan areas in the index, with Ottawa-Gatineau up 1.1% and Vancouver climbing by 1%.

Compared with the same month a year ago, the index climbed by 3.8%, its strongest pace since June 2018. It was the eighth consecutive month that the year-over-year gain accelerated.

The Bank of Canada has slashed interest rates by 150 basis points since the start of March to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but mortgage rates have not fallen as much due to strains in financial markets.

Data this week from the Canadian Real Estate Association showed that buyers and sellers in the housing market moved to the sidelines over the second half of March. Also this week, a flash estimate from Statistics Canada showed that Canada’s economy shrank a record 9% in March from the previous month.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Leslie Adler