Foreign investors cut back on Canadian bonds

By Staff | December 17, 2018 | Last updated on December 17, 2018
2 min read
Bond indices
© alexskopje / 123RF Stock Photo

Foreign buying of Canadian securities overall dropped to $4 billion in October from $7.8 billion in September, according to data published Monday by Statistics Canada.

Weaker foreign buying of Canadian government bonds, combined with an increase in Canadian investors buying foreign bonds, is responsible for the drop-off, StatsCan says.

Foreign investors bought $4.4 billion of Canadian bonds in October, says National Bank Financial Inc. in a report, for a total of $41.5 billion worth of bonds so far this year.

“Without context, positive multi-billion-dollar inflows for the latest month and the current year-to-date sounds healthy enough,” NBF says. However, there’s actually been “a truly striking drop-off” in the pace of foreign buying, it says.

Foreign bond-buying was roughly $88 billion higher through the first 10 months of 2017, NBF says, calling 2018 activity “an unprecedented deceleration.” Specifically, foreign buying of federal government enterprise bonds is down 60% from last year, NBF says.

“All in all, 2018 has been a year to forget in terms of foreign flows into our bond market,” NBF concludes. “Problem is, Canada will still have a non-trivial current account deficit to finance in 2019. Based on the current trend, not much external financing arrives via net FDI inflows … so it might just take a cheap currency and/or wider spreads to attract needed foreign buying in the year ahead.”

Conversely, Canadian investors snapped up $14.9 billion worth of foreign securities, producing a net outflow of $11.0 billion from the Canadian economy during the month.

Through the first 10 months of 2018, portfolio investment generated a net inflow of just $4.8 bllion, compared with $100.7 billion for the same period in 2017, StatsCan says in a news release.

Foreign investment in Canadian equities came in at $1.8 billion in October, StatsCan says, while Canadian investors added $8.9 billion in foreign equities during the month.

Canadians also bought $6 billion worth of foreign debt in October, primarily non-U.S. foreign bonds and U.S. Treasuries. staff


The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.