June 12, 2015 / 12:48 PM / in 3 years

Canada first-quarter household debt-to-income ratio edges down

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s household debt-to-income ratio edged down in the first quarter after three consecutive quarterly increases, easing to 163.25 percent from an upwardly revised 163.59 percent in the previous quarter, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.

The modest decrease came as disposable income increased at a faster pace than household credit market debt. The ratio is not seasonally adjusted.

The fourth-quarter figures had originally been reported at 163.26 percent. The agency revised the numbers for each of the quarters in 2014.

The consumer and housing market have helped propel the economic recovery during years of low interest rates and the Bank of Canada watches the measure for signs consumers may be overextended.

The central bank said on Thursday that risks to Canada’s financial system have edged up because of high household debt and the impact of lower oil prices.

The bank unexpectedly cut interest rates in January, which should make debt burdens easier, though some have raised concerns it could prompt Canadians to take out too much debt.

The unadjusted debt-service ratio, or interest paid as a proportion of disposable income, rose slightly to 6.97 percent from 6.81 percent, though the ratio was still around historic lows.

Overall, national net worth rose 2 percent to C$8.43 trillion ($6.85 trillion).

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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