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By Courtney Tower
     OTTAWA (MNI) - Canadian housing starts fell 2.7% in January from December,
to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 207,698 units, continuing a monthly
decline while holding steady on a six-month trend basis, Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation reported Friday.
     Urban starts fell 2.1% to 190,912 units. That was made up of multiple urban
starts decreasing by 0.7% to 146,353 units, while single-detached home starts
fell by 10.4% to 44,559 units.
     Market expectation had been for a decline to 205,000 units. 
     - STABLE TREND
     The six-month trend which the CMHC prefers as a guide to home starts was
208,131 units in January, a modest rise from 207,171 units in December, CMHC
said.
     "After recent declines, the national trend in housing starts held steady in
January and remained above historical average," Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief
economist, said in the statement. Single detached starts continued to trend
lower but were offset "by an uptick in the trend for multi-unit dwellings in
urban centers."
     In Canada's two key metropolitan areas, Vancouver and Toronto, there were
signs of a slowdown.
     The trend measure for starts in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan area (CM)
held steady in January after trending lower in the second half of 2018. Most
starts were in apartment condominiums. In the Toronto CMA, starts were unchanged
from December.
     For the Toronto CMA, "rising borrowing costs kept pre-construction sales of
new homes low, particularly low-rise throughout 2018," CMHC said. "As a result,
expect to see even fewer units breaking ground during 2019."
--MNI Ottawa Bureau; +1 613 869-0916; email: yali.ndiaye@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: M$C$$$]