Canadian Banks Resilient to Alberta Loan Losses, DBRS Says

Canadian bank losses on consumer loans can remain manageable through Alberta’s crude oil crash barring a wider jump in unemployment or interest rates, according to ratings firm DBRS Ltd.

Income before provisions and taxes at the six largest banks “provides ample protection against rising loan losses in stressed environments,” according to a report released Thursday by the Toronto-based company. Canada’s largest banks are also shielded by mortgage loan portfolios that are spread across the nation’s 10 provinces including faster growing and larger economies in Quebec and Ontario, DBRS said.

The findings mesh with the view of the country’s central bank, which will provide a semi-annual update on financial market risks later Thursday in Ottawa. Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Larry Schembri said in February the risk of a widespread real estate crash remains low and said the financial system is strong enough to deal with a housing shock.

Alberta consumers are struggling to make mortgage, credit card and auto loan payments, DBRS said. The share of mortgage balances that were at least 90 days delinquent in Canada’s main oil-producing province was 0.41 percent in the 12 months through March, higher than Ontario’s 0.13 percent. For auto loans the Alberta delinquency rate was 0.86 percent and for credit cards it was 1.11 percent, up 47 percent over the last year.

The DBRS study was based on data from Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada.

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