OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says municipalities issued $7 billion worth of building permits in April, up 10.5 per cent from March and far better than the month-to-month decline that analysts had expected.
The agency says this was the fourth consecutive monthly increase after a downward trend in the total value of building permits that began in the fall of 2012.
It says the April advance came largely from higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings such as condos and apartments in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.
Analysts had been expecting a four per cent decline from March to April, according to Thomson-Reuters estimates.
Emanuella Enenajor, an economist at CIBC World Markets, noted that Statistics Canada revised the initial March numbers downward Wednesday but said the second quarter appears to be shaping up to be stronger than the first quarter.
“Note that this series tends to be choppy, although today’s data release suggests that despite softening condo-building activity, construction there could be set for one last hurrah,” Enenajor said in a research note.
“Overall, today’s number suggests that despite a slowing trend in homebuilding, condominium construction still has some steam left. That could support Q2 residential activity somewhat, after the sector’s drag to Q1 GDP.”
Overall declines including both residential and non-residential projects were actually recorded in five provinces, with Alberta and Ontario posting the largest.
Construction intentions for residential dwellings rose 21 per cent to $4.4 billion in a second straight monthly increase. However, most of the increase was in the multiple-unit dwellings while single-family intentions were up only 1.1 per cent.
In the non-residential sector, the value of permits fell 3.6 per cent to $2.6 billion, following two consecutive monthly gains.