PRESS RELEASE

Euro area monthly balance of payments (November 2015)

19 January 2016
  • In November 2015 the current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €26.4 billion. [1]
  • In the financial account, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded an increase of €31 billion in assets and a decrease of €14 billion in liabilities

Current account

The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €26.4 billion in November 2015 (see Table 1). This reflected surpluses for goods (€27.0 billion), services (€5.9 billion) and primary income (€4.5 billion), which were partly offset by a deficit in secondary income (€11.0 billion).

The 12-month cumulated current account for the period ending in November 2015 recorded a surplus of €312.2 billion (3.0% of euro area GDP), compared with one of €239.3 billion (2.4% of euro area GDP) for the 12 months to November 2014 (see Table 1 and Chart 1). The increase in the current account surplus was largely due to an increase in the surplus for goods (from €242.0 billion to €318.5 billion) and, to a lesser extent, a decrease in the deficit for secondary income (from €138.4 billion to €133.6 billion) and an increase in the surplus for primary income (from €62.1 billion to €65.4 billion). These were partly offset by a decrease in the surplus for services (from €73.6 billion to €61.8 billion).

Financial account

In November 2015 combined direct and portfolio investment recorded an increase of €31 billion in assets and a decrease of €14 billion in liabilities (see Table 2).

Euro area residents recorded a decrease of €3 billion in direct investment assets, which was almost entirely due to a decrease in debt instruments. Direct investment liabilities decreased by €5 billion, on account of the decrease in debt instruments (€9 billion), which was partly offset by an increase in equity (€3 billion).

As regards portfolio investment assets, euro area residents made net purchases of foreign securities amounting to €35 billion. This was mainly a result of net acquisitions of both long and short-term debt securities (€21 billion and €18 billion respectively), which were to a limited extent offset by net sales of equity (€4 billion). The decrease of €9 billion in euro area portfolio investment liabilities was due to non-euro area residents’ net sales/amortisation of long-term debt securities (€23 billion) and short-term debt securities (€10 billion), which were partly offset by net acquisitions of equity (€24 billion).

The euro area net financial derivatives account (assets minus liabilities) recorded positive net flows of €14 billion.

Other investment recorded decreases of €63 billion in assets and €39 billion in liabilities. The decrease in assets was driven by decreases in the MFIs (excluding the Eurosystem) (€51 billion) and other sectors (€20 billion), which were to a limited extent offset by increases in the general government (€5 billion) and Eurosystem sectors (€3 billion). The decrease in liabilities is also explained by decreases in the MFIs (excluding the Eurosystem) and the other sectors (€23 billion and €21 billion respectively), which were partly offset by increases in the general government and the Eurosystem sector (€3 billion and €2 billion respectively).

The Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets decreased by €1 billion in November 2015 (to €653 billion). This can mainly be attributed to net acquisitions of reserve assets (€3 billion) and a positive effect from asset price and exchange rate developments (€10 billion), which were partly offset by negative revaluations of gold prices (€13 billion).

In the 12 months to November 2015 combined direct and portfolio investment recorded cumulated increases of €819 billion in assets and €575 billion in liabilities, compared with increases of €601 billion and €445 billion respectively in the 12 months to November 2014. This resulted from a significant increase in the direct investment activity of both euro area residents abroad and non-residents in the euro area, with assets increasing from €160 billion to €427 billion and liabilities from €76 billion to €407 billion.

The developments in portfolio investment were quite different. The net acquisition of foreign securities by euro area residents decreased slightly (from €441 billion to €392 billion), although the level is still high, mostly owing to increases in net purchases of long-term debt securities (from €222 billion to €366 billion). On the liability side , acquisitions of euro area securities by non-residents decreased (from €369 billion to €168 billion), which is reflected in fewer purchases of equity (from €296 billion to €228 billion) and an increase in disinvestments in short-term debt securities (from €14 billion to €66 billion) combined with a decrease in acquisitions of long-term debt securities (from €87 billion to €6 billion).

According to the monetary presentation of the balance of payments, the net external assets of euro area MFIs decreased by €85 billion in the 12 months to November 2015, compared with an increase of €258 billion in the preceding 12-month period. This development in MFIs’ net external assets continued to primarily reflect a surplus of €298 billion in the current and capital account balance, which has in the last 12 months been offset by, among other things, a shift from net purchases by non-residents of debt securities issued by euro area non-MFI residents (€83 billion) to net sales/amortisations (€27 billion) and a decrease from €220 billion to €152 billion in net purchases by non-residents of euro area equity.

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions for October 2015. These revisions resulted in a decrease of the direct investment account by €23 billion.

Additional information

Time series data: ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse (SDW)

Methodological information: ECB’s website

Monetary presentation of the balance of payments

Next press releases:

Monthly balance of payments: 18 February 2016 (reference data up to December 2015);

Quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 7 April 2016 (reference data up to the fourth quarter of 2015).

Annexes

Table 1: Current account of the euro area

Table 2: Balance of payments of the euro area

For media queries, please contact Rocío González, tel.: +49 69 1344 6451.



[1]References to the current account are always to data that are seasonally and working day-adjusted, unless otherwise indicated, whereas references to the capital and financial accounts are to data that are neither seasonally nor working day-adjusted.

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