Canada Housing Starts Plunge in January on Multiple Work

Canadian housing starts plunged 19 percent in January to their lowest since the end of the 2009 recession as builders scaled back plans for condominiums.

The annual pace of work fell to 160,577 in January from 197,118 in December, Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp. said in a statement today from Ottawa. Economists forecast a January reading of 195,000, according to the median of 21 responses to a Bloomberg News survey.

The country’s housing market is cooling after policy makers took measures to tighten mortgage lending last year amid concern that a bubble was building in some markets. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tightened rules on government-insured mortgages in July for the fourth time in four years, while the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, the country’s banking regulator, introduced tougher standards for mortgage lenders.

“Today’s data suggest homebuilding is set to swing from an economic positive in 2012 to a drag in 2013,” Emanuella Enenajor, an economist at CIBC World Markets in Toronto, said in a note to investors.

Multiple-unit starts in urban areas fell 29 percent to 78,816 in January from 110,927 in December. Single-detached home starts fell 11 percent. Urban housing starts in Ontario plunged 44 percent, and were down 30 percent in Quebec.