UPDATE 1-Canada March building permits fall, housing steady

Wed May 7, 2014 8:36am EDT
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OTTAWA May 7 (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.

($1 = $1.09 Canadian) (Reporting by Louise Egan and Alex Paterson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)