PRESS RELEASE

Euro area balance of payments in September 2012

16 November 2012

In September 2012 the seasonally adjusted current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €0.8 billion. In the financial account, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net outflows of €3.6 billion (non-seasonally adjusted).

Current account

The seasonally adjusted current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €0.8 billion in September 2012 (see Table 1). This reflected surpluses for goods (€4.5 billion) and services (€6.4 billion), which were partially offset by a deficit for current transfers (€10.1 billion). The income account was in balance.

The 12-month cumulated seasonally adjusted current account recorded a surplus of €77.8 billion in September 2012 (around 0.8% of euro area GDP – see Table 1 and Chart 1), compared with a deficit of €7.6 billion a year earlier (around 0.1% of euro area GDP). This resulted from a shift for goods from deficit (€4.1 billion) to surplus (€71.0 billion) and an increase in the surplus for services (from €61.2 billion to €83.2 billion). These changes were offset by a decrease in the surplus for income (from €40.0 billion to €34.3 billion) and an increase in the deficit for current transfers (from €104.7 billion to €110.7 billion).

Financial account

In the financial account (see Table 2), combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net outflows of €4 billion in September 2012, as a result of net outflows for direct investment (€9 billion) that were partially offset by net inflows for portfolio investment (€5 billion).

The net outflows for direct investment mainly resulted from net outflows in other capital (mostly inter-company loans) (€13 billion).

The net inflows for portfolio investment mostly resulted from net inflows for debt instruments (€5 billion), which reflected net purchases of euro area bonds and notes by non-residents (€42 billion) and net sales of euro area money market instruments by non-residents (€21 billion).

The financial derivatives account recorded net outflows of €3 billion.

Other investment recorded net outflows of €2 billion, mainly reflecting net outflows for both the Eurosystem and other sectors (both €6 billion), which were partly offset by net inflows for MFIs excluding the Eurosystem (€8 billion).

The Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets increased by €18 billion in September 2012 (from €716 billion to €734 billion), mainly on account of an increase in the market price of gold. Transactions in September 2012 contributed to a decrease of €1 billion in the overall position.

In the 12-month period to September 2012 combined direct and portfolio investment recorded cumulated net outflows of €56 billion, compared with net inflows of €266 billion in the preceding 12-month period. This shift was largely the result of lower net inflows for portfolio investment (down from €319 billion to €21 billion), which in turn reflected a shift for debt instruments from net inflows (€192 billion) to net outflows (€86 billion).

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for August 2012. These revisions have not significantly altered the figures previously published for the current, capital and financial accounts.

Additional information on the euro area balance of payments and international investment position

In this press release, the seasonally adjusted current account refers to working day and seasonally adjusted data. Data for the financial account are not working day or seasonally adjusted. Please note that the ECB performs a review of the seasonal adjustment settings for the euro area aggregate current account and component series (i.e. goods, services, income and current transfers: credit, debit and net flows) on an annual basis. Consequently, the seasonal factors for these aforementioned series have been updated from the period January 1999 onwards, affecting previously published seasonally adjusted data. The impact of these changes is not significant.

In line with the agreed allocation of responsibilities, the European Central Bank compiles and disseminates monthly and quarterly balance of payments statistics for the euro area, whereas the European Commission (Eurostat; see news releases for “Euro-indicators”) focuses on quarterly and annual aggregates for the European Union. These data comply with international standards, particularly those set out in the IMF’s Balance of Payments Manual (fifth edition). The aggregates for the euro area and the European Union are compiled consistently on the basis of transactions and positions vis-à-vis residents of countries outside the euro area and the European Union respectively.

A complete set of updated euro area balance of payments statistics (including a quarterly geographical breakdown for the main counterparts) and international investment position statistics is available in the “Statistics” section of the ECB’s website under the headings “Data services”/“Latest monetary, financial markets and balance of payments statistics”. These data, as well as historical euro area balance of payments time series, can be downloaded from the ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse (SDW). Data up to September 2012 will also be published in the December 2012 issues of the ECB’s Monthly Bulletin and Statistics Pocket Book. Detailed methodological notes are available on the ECB’s website. The next press release on the euro area monthly balance of payments will be published on 19 December 2012.

Annexes

Table 1: Current account of the euro area

Table 2: Monthly balance of payments of the euro area

Media contacts