Canadian consumers pile on more debt in third quarter: TransUnion

Thu Nov 10, 2016 12:17pm EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadians took on more consumer debt in the third quarter, and the delinquency rate rose, a major credit report provider said on Thursday in a report that was likely to increase policymaker's concerns about household borrowing levels.

Non-mortgage debt balances averaged C$21,686 ($16,084) in the quarter, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier, TransUnion's report showed.

TransUnion forecast that debt levels would rise to C$21,747 by the end of next year and could hit C$22,000 by the end of 2018.

Outstanding debt increased among most types of loans, including credit cards and installment plans, the report said.

The Canadian government's recent downgrade of its economic outlook may have led some consumers to believe interest rates will remain low for a long time, and could prompt them to borrow more, said Jason Wang, TransUnion's director of research and analysis in Canada.

"It's especially important for lenders to continue monitoring and stress-testing their portfolios to ensure they can maintain stable performance when interest rates do eventually rise," Wang said.

The Canadian economy, which is heavily dependent on the energy sector, has struggled to gain sustainable momentum since it was hit by a drop in oil prices last year.

Earlier this month, the government cut its economic projections for the next several years.

Years of low interest rates since the global financial crisis have led to an increase in consumer borrowing in Canada and fueled the hot housing market.   Continued...

 
Shoppers take a rest while shopping at the Stampede Market during the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Todd Korol