By Nivedita Balu

TORONTO (Reuters) – Bank of Montreal (BMO) is winding down its retail auto finance business and shifting focus to other areas in a move that will result unspecified number of job losses, Canada’s third largest bank said on Saturday.

The move, applicable in Canada and the United States, comes after BMO’s bad debt provisions in retail trade surged to C$81 million ($60 million) in the quarter ended July 31 compared with a recovery of C$9 million a year ago, in a sign of growing stress consumers face from a rapid rise in borrowing costs.

“By winding down the indirect retail auto finance business, we have the ability to focus our resources on areas where we believe our competitive positioning is strongest,” BMO said in a statement to Reuters.

The bank is working closely with employees who will be affected by job cuts to provide support, the bank said.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Toronto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Jane Merriman)

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