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Canadian consumer debt is feeling the chill

TORONTO, March 05, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to Equifax Canadaa??s latest report on Canadian consumer credit, a resurgence in mortgages pushed consumer debt 4.4 per cent higher at the end of 2019 from the same period last year to $1.989 trillion. Homebuyers have adjusted to the 2018 stress test with mortgage debt rising 5.2 per cent to $1.341 trillion. Non-mortgage debt was up only 2.7 per cent in the fourth quarter compared to Q4 2018.
a??Outside of mortgages, we have seen a significant pull back in demand for credit,a?? notes Bill Johnston, Vice-President of Data and Analytics at Equifax Canada. a??Adjusting for population growth, non-mortgage debt did not even keep pace with inflation in the last half of 2019. That is a significant slowdown from the torrid pace set in Q1.a??Average debt per consumer reached $72,950 at the end of 2019, an increase of 2.7 per cent from 2018. Non-mortgage debts, including credit cards, loans and lines of credit, were up a very modest one per cent to $23,800. Lower use of credit lines represented the most significant drag on non-mortgage growth, but even auto finance loans were down one per cent compared to last year. This reflects moderating demand for new credit products. In total, 36.5 per cent of credit-active Canadians posted higher non-mortgage debt levels, a modest decline from the peak Q4 level observed in 2017.Mortgage growth has returned with the average new mortgage amount reaching $289,000 nationally in the last quarter of 2019, a 7.2 per cent increase year-over-year. The average new mortgage in Toronto rose by 8.5 per cent to $448,000, the highest increase on record. Vancouver also reported a significant rebound to $455,000 (+7.4%), recovering the deterioration from the last two years.More consumers feeling the strain
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