May 10, 2018 / 12:43 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Canada new home prices unchanged in March; Toronto slips

(Adds details from report)

OTTAWA, May 10 (Reuters) - Canadian new home prices were unchanged in March, as expected, as higher prices in Ottawa were offset by a weaker Toronto market, data from Statistics Canada showed on Thursday.

Prices in Toronto fell 0.3 percent, the third monthly decrease in a row, after provincial government measures taken last year to rein in the city’s hot market.

Tighter mortgage rules that came into effect at the start of 2018 and three interest rate increases from the Bank of Canada have also helped cool the country’s housing market. Markets expect the central bank to hike rates again this summer, which could put additional pressure on highly indebted consumers.

Overall, 13 cities saw higher prices in March, while 14 were flat or lower. The new housing price index excludes apartments and condominiums.

Ottawa, the nation’s capital, saw the biggest increase, with prices up 1.3 percent. The higher prices may be due to higher employment and a tight resale market, the statistics agency said.

Among other major cities, prices in Calgary fell 0.4 percent as builders cited lower negotiated selling prices, while Vancouver, among the country’s most expensive housing markets, was unchanged for a third straight month.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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