UPDATE 1-Canada household debt-to-income ratio slips from record high

Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:36am EDT
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* Ratio slips from record high after back-to-back increases

* Ratio closely watched amid fears of debt, housing crisis

OTTAWA, March 14 (Reuters) - The ratio of Canadian household debt to income in the fourth quarter of 2013 slipped to 164.0 percent from a record 164.2 percent in the third quarter, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

Statscan revised the third-quarter ratio up from an initial 163.7 percent. The ratio is closely watched by government and Bank of Canada officials, who have long fretted about high personal debt levels and a possible housing crash.

Mortgage borrowing grew by C$13.0 billion ($11.7 billion) in the fourth quarter, considerably less than the C$21.0 billion recorded in the third quarter. At the end of the fourth quarter, mortgage debt stood at just over C$1.1 trillion.

The Bank of Canada said last week that recent data supported its view that there would be a soft landing in the nation's housing market and the household debt-to-income ratio would stabilize.

The ratio in the fourth quarter fell after two consecutive increases. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said last December that consumers had pushed up their plans to buy houses as mortgage rates started to rise.

National net worth grew by 2.7 percent to C$7.73 trillion.