Alberta, Canada’s largest oil producer, plans to refrain from selling debt until its new government releases a budget update this fall, according to a province official.
The province’s last issuance came in March, ahead of elections which saw United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney unseat the New Democratic Party’s Rachel Notley as premier.
Alberta’s business activity is recovering as oil prices climb and Canada’s overall economy also ticks upward after a slowdown in the first quarter. A Canadian Federation of Independent Businessbarometer index shows Alberta soaring 7 points to 59, the highest in about 18 months, yet it still remains shy of the national average of 61.5 points.
“In general, as time ticks away with no funding, one would expect pressure on domestic spreads,” said Ryan Goulding, a fixed-income manager at Vancouver-based Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel Ltd., which runs about $21 billion including Alberta’s bonds. “However with improving fundamentals and their access to print large international deals I would expect this to mitigate any domestic spread widening.”
Alberta last issued bonds on March 13, when it added $700 million to its 3.1 per cent notes due 2050 at a spread of 89 basis points over the comparable federal treasury securities, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The notes are quoted at about an 84 basis points spread, according to bid prices.
On top of carrying out significant pre-funding, Alberta has reduced its outstanding short-term borrowings, the official said. Alberta’s treasury borrowed $7.2 billion in advance of its 2019-2020 fiscal year, which is equivalent to about 41 per cent of the funding envisaged by the previous executive for the period, said the official citing data released in its latest annual report.