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Canada Building Permits Fall Unexpectedly to Lowest in 13 Months

Canadian building permits fell in March to the lowest level in more than a year, led by a plunge in non-residential construction plans.

The value of municipal permits fell 3.0 percent to C$5.99 billion ($5.50 billion), the least since February 2013, following a revised 11.3 percent drop in the previous month, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa.

Economists forecast a 4 percent gain in March according to the median of nine responses to a Bloomberg survey.

Permits for non-residential construction fell 8.8 percent to C$2.31 billion, driven by a 29.4 percent plunge in Ontario, Statistics Canada said. The agency cited fewer construction intentions for factories in Ontario and Quebec as contributing to the drop in non-residential permits.

Residential permits rose 1 percent in March to C$3.67 billion after a 20.8 percent drop the previous month. Permits for housing projects such as condominiums rose 7.9 percent during the month, offsetting a 3.6 percent decline in single-family housing permits.

The value of permits was 5.5 percent lower in March than the same month a year earlier.

While the figures are volatile, with a gain of as much as 26 percent and a decline of 23 percent reported since the start of 2011, the trend has been downward in recent months. The March figure was 26 percent below its record high, which was reached last July.

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