OTTAWA (Reuters) - The value of building permits issued in Canada unexpectedly fell in March but plans for housing construction inched higher after a steep fall in February, according to Statistics Canada data released on Wednesday.
Builders took out $6.0 billion ($5.5 billion) worth of permits in the month, down 3 percent from February and defying market forecasts for a 4.3 percent increase. Statscan revised the February figures to show a 11.3 percent decline in permits versus 11.6 percent.
The value of residential permits climbed 1 percent but remained considerably lower than the record-high in January and in most of 2013 because of a 20.8 percent slide in February. Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings rose 7.9 percent while those for single-family homes fell 3.6 percent.
The strength in housing was not enough to offset a 8.8 percent decrease in permits for non-residential projects. The value of permits for institutional and industrial buildings fell while it rose for the commercial component.
On a year-on-year basis, the total value of permits was down 5.5 percent, with the residential component up 1.0 percent and the non-residential component down 14.2 percent.
Reporting by Louise Egan and Alex Paterson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama