PRESS RELEASE

Euro area balance of payments in October 2012

19 December 2012

In October 2012 the seasonally adjusted current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €3.9 billion. In the financial account, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net inflows of €34.5 billion (non-seasonally adjusted).

Current account

The seasonally adjusted current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €3.9 billion in October 2012 (see Table 1). This reflected surpluses for goods (€6.2 billion) and services (€7.1 billion), which were partly offset by a deficit for current transfers (€9.3 billion). The income account was close to balance.

The seasonally adjusted 12-month cumulated current account recorded a surplus of €84.3 billion in October 2012 (around 0.9% of euro area GDP – see Table 1 and Chart 1), compared with a deficit of €9.3 billion a year earlier (around 0.1% of euro area GDP). This resulted from a shift for goods from deficit (€7.7 billion) to surplus (€78.7 billion) and an increase in the surplus for services (from €63.3 billion to €84.8 billion). These changes were offset by a decrease in the surplus for income (from €40.7 billion to €31.7 billion) and an increase in the deficit for current transfers (from €105.7 billion to €110.9 billion).

Financial account

In the financial account (see Table 2), combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net inflows of €35 billion in October 2012, as a result of net inflows for portfolio investment (€48 billion) that were partly offset by net outflows for direct investment (€13 billion).

The net outflows for direct investment resulted mainly from net outflows in equity capital and reinvested earnings (€14 billion).

The net inflows for portfolio investment resulted from net inflows for both debt instruments (€26 billion) and equity (€21 billion). The developments recorded for debt instruments was partially due to net inflows for money market instruments (€15 billion), as reflected by net sales of foreign money market instruments by euro area residents (€8 billion) and net purchases of euro area money market instruments by non-residents (€7 billion). The net inflows for bonds and notes resulted almost entirely from net purchases of euro area bonds and notes by non-residents (€11 billion). The developments for equity instruments were due primarily to net purchases of euro area equity by non-residents (€27 billion).

The financial derivatives account recorded net outflows of €1 billion.

Other investment recorded net outflows of €38 billion, reflecting net outflows for the Eurosystem (€17 billion), for MFIs excluding the Eurosystem (€12 billion) and for other sectors (€11 billion).

The Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets decreased by €18 billion in October 2012 (from €734 billion to €716 billion); this was mainly on account of a decrease in the market price of gold. Transactions in October 2012 contributed to an increase of €2 billion in the overall position.

In the 12-month period to October 2012, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded cumulated net outflows of €9 billion, compared with net inflows of €257 billion in the preceding 12-month period. This shift was largely the result of lower net inflows for portfolio investment (down from €311 billion to €93 billion), which in turn reflected a shift for debt instruments from net inflows (€235 billion) to net outflows (€61 billion).

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for September 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.

It should be noted that activities pertaining to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) are recorded in the euro area aggregates as from this month. Further information on the ESM is available on a dedicated website http://www.esm.europa.eu

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 October 2012 will also be published in the January 2013 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 combined euro area monthly balance of payments and quarterly international investment position will be published on 24 January 2013.

Annexes

Table 1: Current account of the euro area

Table 2: Monthly balance of payments of the euro area

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