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business briefing

Briefing highlights

  • Insolvencies on rise
  • TSX, Canadian dollar at a glance
  • New York closed for Independence Day
  • Toronto realtors see stronger Spring market
  • Required Reading

Insolvencies on rise

More Canadians are finding they can’t juggle their finances.

Insolvencies among consumers rose in May to 12,375, up 5 per cent from April and 8.6 per cent from a year earlier, the latest statistics from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy show.

There are two types of insolvency: One is outright bankruptcy, the other a “proposal” under which a consumer offers creditors new terms to pay debts.

The number of bankruptcies climbed 6.2 per cent in May from April, to 5,163, though that marked a drop of 1.9 per cent from a year earlier.

Proposals, in turn, rose 4.2 per cent on a month-to-month basis, to 7,212, and a sharp 17.5 per cent from a year earlier.

While insolvencies are rising, the delinquency rate is still small.

And at least some pressure is off as the Bank of Canada isn’t expected to raise interest rates again for quite some time. Indeed, some observers believe the central bank could cut its benchmark rate amid global economic uncertainty.

And the pace of credit growth has certainly slowed in Canada after federal, B.C. and Ontario policy makers moved to cool down frothy housing markets and head off a debt bust via tax and other measures and, key to all this, new mortgage-qualification stress tests.

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Toronto home sales, prices rise

Toronto realtors are boasting of a stronger Spring market as home sales and prices perk up from a depressed 2018.

“Buyers started moving off the sidelines in the Spring, as evidenced by strong year-over-year price growth throughout the second quarter,” Jason Mercer, the Toronto Real Estate Board’s chief market analyst, said today as the group released its June numbers.

Greater Toronto Area home sales climbed 10.4 per cent in June from a year earlier, to 8,860, which was down from a month earlier.

Average prices rose 3 per cent to $832,703, also down from May, while the MLS home price index, which is considered a better measure, rose 3.6 per cent.

“All told, this is playing out largely as expected, with the market firming up after absorbing past policy changes, and with the help of meaningfully lower five-year fixed mortgage rates,” said Bank of Montreal senior economist Robert Kavcic.

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Markets at a glance

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French lawmakers approve tax

From The Associated Press: France’s lower house of parliament approved a small, pioneering tax on Internet giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook – and the French government hopes other countries will follow suit.

William Hill to close shops

From Reuters: William Hill plans to close 700 of its 2,300 British betting shops, putting about 4,500 jobs, a third of its work force, at risk after the government cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to tackle problem gambling.

Required Reading

Behind the shuffle

Jameson Berkow, Tim Kiladze and Andrew Willis take a deep look at how financial losses and rising tensions led to Bruce Linton’s firing as co-CEO at Canopy Growth.

Facebook sought user data

Facebook sought to force outside developers to share customer data with the social-media giant or risk losing access to personal information about Facebook users, leaked company documents reveal. Tamsin McMahon reports.

Uncertainty weighs

Trade uncertainty and a gloomy economic outlook prompted many Canadian companies to delay their public market debuts, opting instead for cash infusions from private-equity investors, Alexandra Posadzki writes.

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