(Adds details from report)
OTTAWA Feb 9 Canadian new home prices rose less
than expected in December amid a pause in price growth in the
hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver, though home values
continued to rise in several regions in Ontario, Statistics
Canada data showed on Thursday.
The 0.1 percent gain was short of analysts' expectations for
an increase of 0.2 percent. National prices have risen steadily
on a month-over-month basis for nearly two years. The index
excludes apartments and condominiums, which account for about
one-third of new housing.
Toronto, now one of the most expensive housing markets in
the country, was unchanged after rising 22 months in a row.
Prices in Vancouver were also flat. Housing activity in the
province of British Columbia began to cool last year, even
before the provincial government implemented a tax on foreign
homebuyers in Vancouver.
December's overall price increase was driven by cities in
Ontario that have seen their housing markets boosted by soaring
Toronto prices, including Hamilton and Kitchener, where prices
climbed 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
Tighter mortgage lending rules put in place by the
government last year are anticipated to rein in Canada's housing
market, which has been robust since the financial crisis in the
midst of low interest rates.
But economists do not expect to see the full impact of those
changes until later in 2017 and higher-than-expected housing
starts data earlier this week suggested activity remained strong
at the start of the year.
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Bernadette Baum)