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Canada Housing Starts Post First Increase in Four Months

March 10 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian housing starts rose for the first time in four months in February led by multiple-unit projects such as condominiums.

Work began on about 192,100 units at a seasonally adjusted annual pace in February, a gain of 6.4 percent, Ottawa-based Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. said today. Economists forecast a reading of 190,000 according to the median of 17 responses to a Bloomberg News survey.

The pace of starts has ranged between about 180,000 and 200,000 over the last year, backing the views of CMHC and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz that the market is stabilizing. Poloz has said record consumer debts and signs of overbuilding in some markets are key risks to the economy, and business spending must take over as a main source of growth.

“Despite February’s modest increase of construction activity, an air of economic fatigue still weighs heavy on domestically-oriented sectors,” Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Connor McDonald wrote in a client note.

Multiple-unit urban starts rose 13 percent to about 116,500 units in February, CMHC said today. Single-unit urban starts fell by 2.4 percent to 59,100 units, close to the lowest since July 2009.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Quinn in Ottawa at gquinn1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Badertscher at pbadertscher@bloomberg.net Chris Fournier

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