Condos Drive Fastest Surge in Canadian Housing Starts Since 2007

[Source: Bloomberg, April 10, 2017]

Canadian housing starts surged to the fastest pace in a decade, led by apartments and condominiums.

Housing starts soared 18 percent to an annualized 253,720 units in March, from 214,253 units in February, Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. said in a statement Monday from Ottawa. Multiple-unit starts in urban areas surged 30 percent to 160,989 units.

Housing has been one of the main drivers of Canada’s economy over the last several years, as interest rates remain at historically low levels. Policy makers have predicted exports and business investment would take over from housing and consumption when the economy returned to full capacity, but that hasn’t happened yet.

“A strong start to 2017 building sets the stage for continued momentum in residential investment, something we hadn’t been counting on,” Nick Exarhos, an economist at CIBC World Markets in Toronto, wrote in a research note.

The Bank of Canada has downplayed recent strong reports on jobs and manufacturing, instead continuing to focus on the downside risks, and today’s report is unlikely to change that position. The next interest-rate decision and policy report is due Wednesday in Ottawa.

“This another strong indicator,” said Exarhos, “but don’t expect Governor Poloz to change his dovish script–at least not yet.”


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