February 8, 2018 / 1:44 PM / 12 days ago

UPDATE 1-Canada new housing prices flat for first time since April 2015

(Adds details of release, background)

OTTAWA, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Canadian new home prices were unchanged in December, breaking a streak of increases going back to April 2015, with flat growth in key markets such as Toronto, Statistics Canada said on Thursday.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected prices to rise by 0.1 percent from November. Buyers in 15 of the 27 metropolitan areas surveyed saw no change, while growth in eight areas was offset by declines in the remaining four.

In Toronto, which represents 25.5 percent of the overall market in Canada, prices stalled for the sixth time in seven months.

Compared to December 2016, Toronto prices gained 4.7 percent, down from the year-over-year peak of 9.9 percent in April 2017, when the provincial government announced measures to cool the market in the city and surrounding areas. Statscan said higher mortgage rates may also have helped moderate prices.

In Vancouver, another hot market where authorities have intervened, prices edged up by 0.2 percent. Builders cited strong demand as the main driver.

The new housing price index excludes apartments and condominiums, which the government says are a particular cause for concern and which account for one-third of new housing.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

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