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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The value of Canadian building permits unexpectedly rose 1.1 percent in May from April, staying at their highest level since October despite a softening in the housing sector, Statistics Canada said on Monday.
Analysts had expected a 6 percent drop in the value of permits issued by municipalities, following a sharp 17 percent spike in April, according to Statscan's revised figures.
"It was the first back-to-back increase in construction intentions since November 2006, and could point to busy construction sites in the coming months," Statscan said.
Contractors took out permits in the nonresidential sector that were worth 12.8 percent more than in April due to strength in the industrial and institutional components.
Housing construction permits, which had been on a downward trend since September, fell 6.6 percent in May. The value of multiple-family units fell 15.5 percent while single-family buildings clawed out a gain of 0.5 percent after two months of declines.
*Statistics Canada report
Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Bernadette Baum