OTTAWA - Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the pace of housing starts slowed slightly in January, mainly because of sharp decreases in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

The housing agency says the seasonally adjusted annual start rate was 197,900 units in January, down from 199,900 units in December.

The seasonally adjusted figure attempts to smooth out monthly variations and calculates an annual total as if the January rate continued for 12 months.

The actual number of units begun in January was 12,950.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased by 2.8 per cent to 176,600 units in January, with single starts down by 7.8 per cent and multiple starts up 0.4 per cent.

Urban starts decreased by 35.4 per cent in Atlantic Canada and by 34.4 per cent in Quebec on a seasonally adjusted annual rate.

On the same basis, rural starts were estimated at 21,300 units in January.