Housing starts down for fifth consecutive month

Housing starts in Canada were down for the fifth consecutive month in February, according to the latest figures by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Plunging to their weakest level since 2009, the drop has been partly blamed on severe winter weather conditions that nonetheless have added to fears that Canada’s post-recession housing boom will stall this year.

The report showed the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts fell to 156,276 units last month from 187,025 in January. That fell short of the 180,000 economists had expected.

“Any way you slice it, today’s housing starts release was among the weakest prints we have seen in some time. While in part weather-induced, thanks to the harsh February weather in much of Canada, the trend is clearly toward weakness,” said Randall Bartlett, senior economist with TD Economic, in a research note.