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Building permits unexpectedly fell in February amid fewer plans to construct multiple-unit dwellings.

Permits fell for the second month in a row, sliding 0.5 per cent to $5.7-billion in the month, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

Economists had expected a 2.1-per-cent increase.

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"Increases in permits for commercial buildings and single-family dwellings failed to offset a significant decline in multiple-dwelling construction intentions," the agency said.

Permits may have eased in February, but they are still 56.7 per cent higher than the same month last year, when they hit their lowest level during the economic slowdown.

Residential construction intentions fell 7.5 per cent, with a 52.5-per-cent drop in the value of multiple dwellings in Ontario largely responsible for the drop.

In the non-residential sector, permits rose 16 per cent.

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About the Author

Tavia Grant has worked at The Globe and Mail since early 2005, covering topics from employment and currency markets to trade, microfinance and Latin American economies. She previously worked for Bloomberg News in Toronto and Zurich, writing on mining, stocks, currencies and secret Swiss bank accounts. More


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