February 7, 2012 / 1:47 PM / in 6 years

Condo strength propels Canada building permits jump

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A hot Ontario condo market helped boost the value of Canadian building permits to a 4-1/2-year high in December and up 11.1 percent from November, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday.

The value of permits rose to a seasonally adjusted C$6.8 billion (US$6.8 billion), the highest level since June 2007. The increase confounded analysts, who on average expected a 0.5 percent fall, according to a Reuters survey.

The residential sector jumped 16.1 percent, led by a 28.9 percent leap in construction intentions for multi-family dwellings to C$1.9 billion, the highest since December 2005.

“The growth was due to major condominium and apartment building projects initiated in Ontario,” the agency said, adding that Toronto led the way.

The Bank of Canada has expressed concern about the housing market, particularly condos, saying properties were overvalued in some markets.

The non-residential sector, which is more volatile because of the large value of individual projects, rose 2.8 percent. The commercial component jumped 41.0 percent, while industrial permits fell by 24.2 percent and institutional fell by 42.2 percent.

(US$1=$1 Canadian)

Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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