UPDATE 1-Canada new home prices rise 0.1 pct in March

Thu May 9, 2013 8:36am EDT
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* Oil town Calgary biggest contributor to higher prices
    * Annual price hike 2 pct in decelerating trend

    OTTAWA, May 9 (Reuters) - New home prices in Canada rose by
0.1 percent in March, as expected, pushed up by the busy real
estate market in the western city of Calgary for the second
month in a row, according to Statistics Canada data released on
    Prices in Calgary, at the heart of the country's booming oil
industry, contributed most to the climb in the new housing price
index with a 0.3 percent advance, the agency said.
    The Toronto-Oshawa region, which has the biggest weighting
in the index, saw a 0.1 percent climb following a flat reading
in February. Other cities reporting unusually big price hikes
for new homes included Regina, Saskatoon and Windsor. Prices
fell 0.2 percent in Vancouver.
    Overall, prices rose in nine cities, stayed unchanged in
nine and fell in three. 
    On a year-over-year basis new housing prices in Canada rose
by 2 percent in March, the slowest pace since May 2011 and down
from 2.1 percent in February. Annual prices have been
decelerating since the start of 2013. 
    Canada's government and central bank have long expressed
worries about overheating in the housing market, and the
associated rise in personal debt levels to record highs.
    Ottawa has tightened mortgage rules four times. Since the  
latest intervention in mid-2012, the housing market has shown
signs of cooling and the household debt-to-income ratio has
    Statscan's new housing price data exclude condominiums, a
particular concern to policymakers.