Canadian banks are safe havens

OTTAWA — Canada’s banks are collectively the soundest in the world, according to Moody’s Investors Service, which has recommended the financial institutions to jittery global investors.

OTTAWA — Canada’s banks are collectively the soundest in the world, according to Moody’s Investors Service, which has recommended the financial institutions to jittery global investors.

The New York-based agency rated all of Canada’s big banks at double-A2 or better in a report Wednesday, higher than bank rankings in the United States, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and other areas of the world.

Canada’s big banks also posted good results in the first quarter of 2012, the agency noted.

“Canada’s banks are more highly rated by Moody’s and have higher market-implied ratings than any other banking region globally,” senior director Allerton Smith said in the report.

“The combination of strong underlying credit fundamentals, a prudent regulatory environment, sound government fiscal management policies, and a more stable real estate market have all contributed to the superior standing of Canada’s banks.”

Given the continuing debt problems in Europe and uncertainties elsewhere, “investors seeking a safe haven … may well find the Canadians banks to be an attractive option,” Smith added.

Moody’s gives TD Bank the highest Triple-A grade, but notes it has a negative outlook, while the Royal Bank’s double-A1 is under review. But even a downgrade would leave both above the double-A2 mark.

The rating report is just the latest recognition of Canadian banks, which — unlike counterparts in the U.S. and Europe — suffered no failures during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Thompson Reuters on Tuesday placed four Canadians banks among the top 25 globally for investment fee earnings in the first quarter of 2012, with RBC leading the way in 11th spot at $488.2 million.

Meanwhile, Moody’s also confirmed the Canadian government’s leading triple-A debt rating, saying it is a safe bet for the foreseeable future.

Moody’s explained Canada’s government has relatively low debt levels and faces less pressure from pensions than some other countries.

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