A condo building is seen under construction surrounded by houses as condo towers are seen in the distance in Vancouver on Friday, March 30, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

CMHC reports pace of housing starts in Canada jumped higher in June

OTTAWA — The annual pace of housing starts picked up in June, the latest piece of economic data to paint a picture of a stronger second quarter.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Tuesday the pace of housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 245,657 units compared with 196,809 units in May.

The result topped the 210,000 units that economists had expected, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the result was yet another factor helping to drive a strong rebound in second quarter growth.

“Residential construction activity remains rock solid, as still-strong demographic flows are supporting unit demand,” Kavcic wrote in a note.

The housing report came a day ahead of the Bank of Canada’s next interest rate decision. The central bank is widely expected to keep its key interest rate target on hold on Wednesday when it also releases its latest monetary policy report.

The Canadian economy hit a weak spot at the end of 2018 that extended through the start of this year, however strength has been building in recent months as the Bank of Canada expected.

The increase in the pace of home starts came as the rate of urban starts increased by 26 per cent in June to 234,238 units.

The annualized pace of multiple-unit projects such as condominiums, apartments and townhouses increased by 31 per cent to 185,804 units last month, while the pace of single-detached urban starts rose eight per cent to 48,434 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11,419 units.

TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi said new home construction in Canada has continued to hold up well, in contrast to the home resale market.

“That said, starts are moving gradually lower on a trend basis, with the six-month average well off its near-term peak observed in late 2017,” Sondhi wrote.

“We anticipate some further moderation, as starts move closer to a more fundamentally supported level of around 200,000.”

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates was 205,838 units in June compared with 200,530 in May.

In a separate report, Statistics Canada said Tuesday the value of building permits issued in May fell to $8.2 billion compared with a record $9.5 billion in April.

The drop came as the value of permits for multi-family dwellings in British Columbia fell following a significant rise in April in response to impending increases in development costs.

The value of residential permits fell 17.2 per cent to $5.0 billion in May, following a 26.6 per cent increase in April.

The value of non-residential permits dropped 5.7 per cent to $3.3 billion in May.

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