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Household debt-to-income ratio falls on slow mortgage borrowing

Canada’s ratio of household debt to disposable income fell in the first three months of 2014, the second straight quarterly decline from a record on the slowest pace of mortgage borrowing in five years.

Credit-market debt such as mortgages fell to 163.2 percent of disposable income, compared with a revised 163.9 percent in the fourth quarter and a record 164.1 percent in the third quarter of last year, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa.

Mortgage debt rose 0.6 percent to $1.1 trillion in the first quarter, the slowest pace since 2009, the agency said. Disposable income rose 0.8 percent while consumer credit-market debt gained 0.3 percent.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said June 12 indebted consumers fueling a housing boom pose the biggest domestic threat to the country’s financial system. Canada has tightened mortgage rules since 2008 over concern about overheated markets, with much of the focus on condominiums being built in Toronto, the nation’s largest city.

There are signs the housing market is picking up again after the first quarter. The federal housing agency reported June 9 that new home building was the strongest in May in seven months. Canadian realtors also recorded their biggest sales gain in almost four years in May with a 5.9 percent increase, while prices climbed 7.1 percent from a year earlier.

Other measures suggest Canadians are able to repay their debts even as their total obligations have risen to record levels. Household net worth rose 2.5 percent to $7.89 trillion in the first quarter, or $222,600 per capita. CTV Two CTV News CTV News Channel BNN - Business News Network CP24