Canadian Housing Starts' 18% March Plunge Surprises Economists

Canada's residential real estate markets showed signs of a sharp slowdown in the first quarter of the year, with housing starts plummeting in March to around 157,000 at an annual rate, from 191,000 the month before.

February building permits for future construction plunged as well, StatsCan reported Tuesday, falling 11.6 per cent in February from the month before.

The news took market analysts by utter surprise. Most had been expecting an increase in housing starts to around 195,000.

(more on Canada's March housing-starts plunge . . . )