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OTTAWA — Canadian housing prices rose by 0.3% in January, the biggest jump for 20 months, on strong gains in the western Prairie region, Statistics Canada said on Thursday.

housesales_np_pgThe increase — greater than the 0.1% advance forecast by market analysts — was the largest since the 0.3% gain seen in May 2012.

Prices in the metropolitan region of Calgary, the capital of Canada’s oil industry, jumped by 1.3% from December on higher material and labor costs as well as market conditions.

Elsewhere in the West, prices in Saskatoon rose by 1.4% while those in Winnipeg climbed by 0.5%.

The Canadian government, which has intervened in the mortgage market four times since 2008 to cool the sector, has long expressed concerns the housing market might overheat though it thinks a soft landing is more likely.

The new housing price index excludes condominiums, which the government says are a particular cause for concern.

The closely watched Toronto-Oshawa region, which accounts for 28.01% of the entire market, posted a 0.2% increase from December.

Overall, prices were up in five of the 21 metropolitan regions, down in nine and unchanged in seven. Prices rose 1.5% from January 2013, breaking a five-month spell of slowing year-on-year growth.

Canada’s national housing agency announced last month it would increase its mortgage loan insurance premiums from May 1 to shore up its capital and reduce taxpayers’ exposure to the housing market.

© Thomson Reuters 2014

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