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Housing growth, auto loans drive up demand for credit in third quarter: Equifax – Business News – Castanet.net

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Consumer demand for credit intensified in the third quarter, driven chiefly by increases in mortgage balances and new auto loans, according to data released Monday by credit reporting agency Equifax.

Mortgage balances and new auto loans were up 6.6 per cent and 11.7 per cent year over year, respectively, according to Equifax. Overall average consumer debt increased 3.3 per cent compared with the third quarter of last year.

Rebecca Oakes, assistant vice-president of advanced analytics at Equifax Canada, said in an interview that growth in mortgages last quarter was especially high, with the largest increase among people under 35. That trend comes even as economic fallout from the pandemic and associated lockdown measures hit young people especially hard.

“In terms of new mortgages, that could be refinancing, or it could be brand-new, first-time homebuyers or it could be people moving house,” Oakes said. “That was actually the highest value that we’ve seen ever.”

The increased demand for auto loans in the third quarter could have been a result of pent-up demand from people who had to wait to buy cars later in the year, Oakes said.

The figures in Equifax’s report are drawn from banks and other lenders that provide data to the credit rating agency.

Equifax pegged total consumer debt at $2.04 trillion, while Statistics Canada reported in June that household debt had reached $2.3 trillion, with $1.77 in debt for every dollar of household disposable income.

More than three million consumers have chosen to use payment deferral programs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Equifax. Since the start of this year, some banks have offered consumers the option to suspend their loan payments for several months, in recognition of the financial strain the pandemic has created for many households.

However, under the payment deferral programs, interest continues to accrue during the months for which payments are suspended.

The percentage of balances where credit users have missed three or more payments was at its lowest level since 2014, with deferral programs likely masking the true delinquency rates, according to Oakes.

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BlackRock's shift to 'net-zero' investments is accelerating, CEO Larry Fink says – The Globe and Mail

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Larry Fink, founder and chief executive of the investment firm Blackrock, at his offices in New York, on Aug. 10, 2016.

DAMON WINTER/The New York Times

BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest fund manager, is accelerating its push to reduce the risks of climate change for clients, asking corporate leaders to disclose how their companies will fare in a “net-zero” economy and selling its stakes in those that fail to live up to heightened standards.

BlackRock chief executive officer Larry Fink said in his annual letters to the CEOs of companies in the firm’s portfolio and to BlackRock clients that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the reallocation of capital to investments with lower-climate risk. Activity boomed as countries made new pledges to get to net zero – when greenhouse gas emissions are simultaneously reduced and offset – as they plotted economic recovery.

From January to November last year, investors around the world plowed US$288-billion into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds with sustainable assets, nearly double the the tally of 2019, he said.

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Mr. Fink’s comments show how New York-based BlackRock, which manages US$8.7-trillion in assets on behalf of pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and other clients, has quickly built on its market-moving pronouncements of a year ago. Mr. Fink made headlines by saying BlackRock would part ways with companies that generate more than 25 per cent of their sales from thermal coal, and set up new ETFs that filter out fossil fuel investments.

It was seen as a wake-up call for the corporate world, and several other major investors have since made similar announcements. On Tuesday, Mr. Fink described the change in investor preference for more sustainable opportunities as a “tectonic shift.”

“Given how central the energy transition will be to every company’s growth prospects, we are asking companies to disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net zero economy – that is, one where global warming is limited to well below 2 degrees Celsius, consistent with a global aspiration of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” Mr. Fink wrote in his letter to CEOs.

“We are asking you to disclose how this plan is incorporated into your long-term strategy and reviewed by your board of directors.”

Governments in the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea and Canada have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions in the coming decades. Under new President Joe Biden, the United States has committed to rejoining the Paris Agreement on battling climate change. No company will be unaffected by the transition, and gathering and assessing data will be key, Mr. Fink said.

“Of course, investors cannot prepare their portfolios for this transition unless they understand how each and every company is prepared both for the physical threats of climate change and the global economy’s transition to net zero,” Mr. Fink said.

Last year, BlackRock asked all companies in its portfolio to disclose information about climate-change risk and social and governance issues in step with guidelines established by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

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Mr. Fink said he is urging all companies to begin disclosing climate data in line with the TCFD standard before regulators begin to mandate such reporting. Last week, an Ontario government task force recommended the Ontario Securities Commission require companies to adopt such disclosure.

In its active investing portfolios, BlackRock is adopting a “heightened scrutiny model,” applying its risk-management tools to identify particularly high climate risk among companies owing to high carbon intensity and insufficient preparation for the energy transition.

“Where we do not see progress in this area, and in particular where we see a lack of alignment combined with a lack of engagement, we will not only use our vote against management for our index portfolio-held shares, we will also flag these holdings for potential exit in our discretionary active portfolios because we believe they would present a risk to our clients’ returns,” Mr. Fink wrote in his letter to clients.

“Conversely, we believe companies that distinguish themselves in terms of their emissions trajectory, transition preparedness and governance will often represent an opportunity for our clients.”

Jeffrey Jones writes about sustainable finance and the ESG sector for The Globe and Mail. Reach him at jeffjones@globeandmail.com.

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Canada's vaccine deliveries further threatened as Europe mulls export controls – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada’s anxiety-laden COVID-19 vaccine programs are facing further threats as Europe warns drug makers it might impose export controls on European-made vaccine doses.

All of Canada’s current vaccine doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are made in Europe, potentially putting at risk the entirety of Canada’s vaccine deliveries.

Europe — like Canada — is being shorted on deliveries from Pfizer as the company slows production to expand its plant in Belgium.

But AstraZeneca has also now informed Europe productions issues will reduce initial deliveries of its vaccine, which Europe is expected to approve for use later this week.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen says in a tweet today that the world’s largest trading bloc will establish “a vaccine export transparency mechanism.”

Canada has no ability currently to produce COVID-19 vaccines but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has insisted repeatedly that Canada will get enough vaccine doses for all Canadians who want it by the end of September.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021

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From GameStop to Blackberry, here's why the shorts are getting squeezed: Morning Brief – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The Canadian Press

Review: Ani Di Franco makes the political personal on album

Ani Di Franco, “Revolutionary Love” (Righteous Babe Records) Pioneering folkie activist Ani Di Franco is a standout instrumentalist whose guitar could kill fascists. Alas, on “Revolutionary Love,” her six-string doesn’t play a major role — or many notes. Not that Di Franco has gone mellow. With characteristic passion on her first studio album since 2017, she makes the personal universal, and the political personal. Her title cut is a seven-minute pledge to propel social movements with love and forgiveness, the message underscored by a slow-burn soul groove. Elsewhere Di Franco quotes Michelle Obama, skewers an ex-president and calls for resilience in the wake of depressing news headlines. Such topics are mixed with couplets about personal pain and bliss, sometimes within the same song. The best of “Revolutionary Love” is very good. Di Franco’s acoustic guitar is most prominent on “Metropolis,” and it’s beautiful — a love ballad with shimmering reeds that evoke her description of “fog lifting off the bay.” The equally compelling “Chloroform” laments domestic dysfunction as a string quartet creates dissonance of its own. Elsewhere Di Franco blends elements of folk, jazz and R&B, and makes music suitable for a rally. She’s at her most politically vociferous on “Do or Die,” singing about “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to a Latin beat. Di Francophiles will find it positively patriotic. Steven Wine, The Associated Press

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