UPDATE 1-Canadian housing starts pick up again in Feb -CMHC

Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:36am EDT
 
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* Housing starts rise to 192,094 in Feb

* Six-month moving average 192,236

By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, March 10 (Reuters) - Canadian housing starts rose more than expected in February, data released on Monday showed, but the modest increase did not sway economists' expectations that the country's housing market will cool this year.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts rose to 192,094 units last month from a upwardly revised 180,481 in January, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC) said. That topped expectations for an increase to 189,500.

Activity had decreased in January due to unusually harsh winter weather and the rebound in February suggested some of the weather-related impact was starting to wash out of the economic data.

The six-month moving average showed housing starts stood at 192,236 units. Since August 2013, the trend has remained in a range between 185,000 and 195,000, in line with CMHC's outlook for a stable housing market this year, the report said.

A booming Canadian housing market in recent years prompted fears of a U.S.-style collapse, but Canada has so far avoided such a correction. The Canadian government intervened four times to tighten mortgage rules, which has helped rein in the market.

Most economists believe an increase in borrowing costs this year and an economy that is growing only modestly will lead to a softer but stable market in 2014.   Continued...