PRESS RELEASE

Euro area monthly balance of payments (March 2018)

18 May 2018
  • In March 2018 the euro area current account recorded a surplus of €32.0 billion. [1]
  • In the financial account, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net acquisitions of assets of €61 billion and net incurrences of liabilities of €30 billion.

Chart 1: Balance of payments of the euro area: 12-month cumulated transactions

(as a percentage of GDP)

Source: ECB.

Current account

The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €32.0 billion in March 2018 (see Table 1). This reflected surpluses for goods (€30.2 billion), services (€9.4 billion) and primary income (€3.9 billion), which were partly offset by a deficit for secondary income (€11.5 billion).

The 12-month cumulated current account for the period ending in March 2018 recorded a surplus of €407.7 billion (3.6% of euro area GDP), compared with €375.2 billion (3.5% of euro area GDP) in the 12 months to March 2017 (see Table 1 and Chart 1). This development was mainly due to an increase in the surplus for services (from €41.7 billion to €103.5 billion) and, to a lesser extent, in the surplus for goods (from €355.1 billion to €358.2 billion), which were partially offset by decreases in the surpluses for primary income (from €116.8 billion to €91.0 billion) and an increase in the deficit for secondary income (from €138.4 billion to €144.9 billion).

Financial account

In March 2018 combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net acquisitions of assets of €61 billion and net incurrences of liabilities of €30 billion (see Table 2).

Euro area residents recorded net acquisitions of €31 billion of direct investment assets as a result of net investments in debt instruments (€22 billion) and equity (€9 billion). Direct investment liabilities decreased by €33 billion as a result of net withdrawals of euro area debt instruments (€18 billion) and equity (€15 billion) by non-euro area residents.

As regards portfolio investment assets, in March 2018 euro area residents made net purchases of foreign securities amounting to €30 billion. These net purchases were in the form of long-term debt securities (€30 billion) and short-term debt securities (€12 billion), while euro area residents disposed of equity (€11 billion). Portfolio investment liabilities increased by €63 billion as a result of non-euro area residents’ net acquisitions of euro area long-term debt securities (€45 billion) and equity (€24 billion), which were partly offset by net sales/amortisations of euro area short-term debt securities (€7 billion) by non-euro area residents.

The euro area net financial derivatives account (assets minus liabilities) recorded negative net flows of €5 billion.

Other investment recorded net disposals of assets amounting to €78 billion and net disposals of liabilities totalling €130 billion. The net disposal of assets was mainly due to MFIs (excluding the Eurosystem) (€84 billion), a development which was partly offset by an increase in the net assets of other sectors (€7 billion). The net disposal of liabilities was mainly attributable to the MFIs (excluding the Eurosystem) (€175 billion) and, to a lesser extent, to other sectors (€32 billion). These developments were partly offset by net incurrences of liabilities by the Eurosystem (€75 billion).

In the 12 months to March 2018, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net acquisitions of assets of €655 billion and net incurrences of liabilities of €236 billion, compared with €905 billion and €301 billion respectively in the 12 months to March 2017.

In direct investment, there was a decrease in the net investments of euro area residents abroad and a shift to net disinvestment of non-residents in the euro area. The net acquisitions of equity by euro area residents dropped from €457 billion to €34 billion, while transactions in debt instruments dropped from €14 billion to €11 billion. On the liability side, transactions in euro area equity by non-residents shifted from net investments of €213 billion to net disinvestments of €224 billion, while intercompany lending recorded an increase in net investments from €80 billion to €115 billion.

Concerning portfolio investment, the net purchases of foreign equity and debt securities by euro area residents increased from €58 billion to €191 billion and from €378 billion to €419 billion respectively. On the liability side, the net purchases of euro area equity by non-euro area residents increased from €216 billion to €447 billion and the net sales/amortisations of euro area debt securities decreased from €208 billion to €103 billion.

According to the monetary presentation of the balance of payments, the net external assets of euro area monetary financial institutions (MFIs) decreased by €17 billion in the 12 months to March 2018, compared with a decrease of €243 billion in the 12 months to March 2017. This was mainly due to the developments in the portfolio equity investment of the non-MFIs.

In March 2018 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets increased to €673.4 billion from €667.7 billion in the previous month (see Table 3). This increase (€5.7 billion) was mainly due to net acquisitions of reserve assets (€9.5 billion), which were partly offset by negative exchange rate (€2.2 billion) and price (€1.3 billion) changes.

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for January and February 2018. These revisions have not significantly altered the figures published previously.

Additional information

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

Methodological information

Monetary presentation of the balance of payments

Next press releases:

  • monthly balance of payments: 19 June 2018 (reference data up to April 2018)
  • quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 4 July 2018 (reference data up to the first quarter of 2018).

Annexes

For media queries, please contact Philippe Rispal, tel.: +49 69 1344 5482.



[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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