Canada December Home Starts Fall Fourth Month on Multis

Canadian housing starts fell a fourth straight month in December on multiple-unit projects, bringing the rate to the slowest in a year, government figures showed.

The annual pace of work fell 1.7 percent to 198,000 units on an annual basis from November’s revised 201,400 figure, Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. said in a statement today from Ottawa. Economists forecast a December reading of 195,000 according to the median of 22 responses to a Bloomberg News survey.

Multiple-unit starts in urban areas fell 4.7 percent to 111,500 units, while singles increased 8.6 percent to 67,400 units in December, according to the report.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the country’s banking regulator tightened lending rules last year as consumer debts reached record levels amid signs of overbuilding in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto. Housing has been boosted by low mortgage rates, and the country’s central bank has signaled it may raise interest rates as the economy approaches full output.

“The homebuilding sector, once an engine of growth for the Canadian economy, is on a clear softening trend,” said Emanuella Enenajor, an economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Toronto.

CMHC said it will present its final estimate of 2012 starts later his month.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.