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Harper disagrees with pessimistic report on Canadian housing market Wed Sep 24, 1:46 PM Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says he disagrees with a report by brokerage firm Merrill Lynch that warns Canada could be headed for a housing and mortgage meltdown similar to the one that has devastated the United States economy. The report, issued Wednesday by Merrill Lynch Canada economists David Wolf and Carolyn Kwan, said many Canadian households are more financially overextended than their counterparts in the U.S. or Britain. They said it's only a matter of time before the "tipping point" is reached and the housing and credit markets crack in Canada. "I don't accept that conclusion, not at all," Harper told reporters on tour in British Columbia. "We have seen the housing market and the construction market much stronger in Canada than in the U.S.," he said. Harper said Canadian financial institutions have also taken a different approach to lending than their American counterparts. "We don't have the same situation here with the mortgages as was the case in the U.S. with the subprime mortgages there," he said. "So, therefore, I think that our market is in a much stronger position." The report acknowledges that the analysis is more pessimistic than the prevailing view. Many economists have been saying that Canada's housing and banking sectors are much more stable than their American counterparts, and will likely slow down but not crash. But Merrill Lynch Canada - whose U.S. parent is one of the biggest victims of a crisis in financial markets arising from the American housing and mortgage meltdown - said Canadians should be wary. Household net borrowing in Canada amounted to 6.3 per cent of disposable income in 2007, which is more than households in the U.K. and not far off the peak reached by U.S. households in 2005. The report also said housing prices are now falling and inventories of unsold homes are rising sharply in Canada, suggesting that this market turnaround will not be a transitory phenomenon. However, the prevailing view is that Canada's lenders have issued few of the type of subprime mortgages that sparked the U.S. crisis. In addition, a recent study showed that Canadian residential properties are not overvalued in most cities. With files from the Canadian Press lien