UPDATE 1-Canada March new housing prices up on robust Toronto, Vancouver

Thu May 12, 2016 8:41am EDT
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(Adds details from report)

OTTAWA May 12 (Reuters) - Canadian new home prices rose in March, continuing to climb in the major cities of Toronto and Vancouver where housing markets have been robust, data from Statistics Canada showed on Thursday.

The 0.2 percent gain topped analysts' expectations of 0.1 percent. Prices have increased for the last 12 consecutive months.

Prices in Vancouver and the Toronto region rose by 0.4 percent in each city, with builders citing market conditions as the main reason for the increase. National home prices were up 2.0 percent compared with a year ago, the largest annual increase since April 2013.

Canada's housing market has been robust in the years since the financial crisis, partly due to low interest rates. The sector has become more segmented in the past year, with the collapse in oil prices hurting commodity-linked regions even as prices in Toronto and Vancouver accelerated.

Prices in oil-sensitive Calgary were flat in March but down 0.9 percent compared with a year before.

The new housing price index excludes apartments and condominiums, which the government says are a particular cause for concern and account for one-third of new housing.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)