Euro area monthly balance of payments (December 2016)
- In December 2016 the current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €31.0 billion.
- In the financial account, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net acquisitions of assets of €22 billion and net reductions of liabilities of €101 billion.
The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €31.0 billion in December 2016 (see Table 1). This reflected surpluses for goods (€31.7 billion), primary income (€5.3 billion) and services (€4.6 billion), which were partly offset by a deficit for secondary income (€10.6 billion).
According to the preliminary results for 2016 as a whole, the current account recorded a surplus of €364.7 billion (3.4% of euro area GDP), compared with one of €319.3 billion (3.1% of euro area GDP) in 2015 (see Table 1 and Chart 1). All the components of the current account increased. There were increases in the surpluses for goods (from €348.2 billion to €372.2 billion), services (from €58.9 billion to €69.1 billion) and primary income (from €42.1 billion to €52.4 billion), as well as a slight decrease in the deficit for secondary income (from €129.9 billion to €129.0 billion).
In December 2016 combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net acquisitions of assets of €22 billion and net decreases of liabilities of €101 billion (see Table 2).
Euro area residents recorded net acquisitions of €7 billion of direct investment assets as a result of net acquisitions of equity (€32 billion) that were partly offset by net disposals of debt instruments (€25 billion). Direct investment liabilities decreased by €45 billion as a result of net disinvestment in both euro area equity (€17 billion) and debt instruments (€28 billion) by non-euro area residents.
As regards portfolio investment assets, euro area residents made net acquisitions of foreign securities amounting to €14 billion. This resulted from net purchases of equity (€2 billion) and debt securities (€12 billion), specifically net purchases of short-term debt securities (€20 billion) that were partly offset by net sales of long-term debt securities (€8 billion). Non-euro area residents recorded net disposals of euro area portfolio investment liabilities of €55 billion. This was the result of net sales/amortisations of euro area short-term (€27 billion) and long-term (€40 billion) debt securities, which were partly offset by non-euro area residents’ net acquisitions of euro area equity (€11 billion).
The euro area net financial derivatives account (assets minus liabilities) recorded positive net flows of €6 billion.
Other investment recorded net disposals of €217 billion in assets and €227 billion in liabilities. The net disposal of foreign assets by euro area residents is mainly attributable to net disposals by the MFI sector (excluding the Eurosystem) (€192 billion) and other sectors (€33 billion), which were partly offset by net acquisitions of the Eurosystem (€8 billion). Similarly, the net decrease in liabilities is explained by net disposals of the MFI sector (excluding the Eurosystem) (€280 billion) and other sectors (€21 billion). The general government also decreased its liabilities by €7 billion. These were offset to a limited extent by net incurrences of liabilities of the Eurosystem (€80 billion).
In 2016 as a whole, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net increases of €669 billion in assets and net decreases of €52 billion in liabilities, compared with net increases of €1,225 billion and €875 billion respectively in 2015. This resulted from a significant decrease in the direct investment activity of both euro area residents abroad and non-residents in the euro area, with the net acquisition of assets decreasing from €820 billion to €292 billion and the net incurrence of liabilities from €577 billion to €14 billion.
The most significant development in portfolio investment was a shift on the liability side from net acquisitions of euro area debt securities by non-euro area residents of €30 billion to net sales/amortisations of €192 billion.
According to the monetary presentation of the balance of payments, the net external assets of euro area MFIs decreased by €209 billion in 2016, compared with a decrease of €49 billion in 2015. This reflected an increase in the surplus in the current and capital account balance (from €304 billion to €364 billion), which was offset by net financial transactions by non-MFIs. In particular, the cumulated transactions in portfolio investment liabilities issued by non-MFI euro area residents showed a shift from net purchases of debt securities by non-euro area investors (€92 billion) to net sales/amortisations (€128 billion).
In December 2016 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets increased by €1.1 billion to €707.7 billion (see Table 3). This can be explained by net acquisitions of reserve assets (€6.1 billion) and positive exchange rate developments (€0.9 billion), which were partly offset by negative price revaluations (€6.0 billion), particularly of monetary gold.
This press release incorporates revisions for October and November 2016. These revisions have not significantly altered the figures previously published.
Time series data: ECB’s Statistical Data Warehouse (SDW)
Monetary presentation of the balance of payments
- Monthly balance of payments: 22 March 2017 (reference data up to January 2017);
- Quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 6 April 2017 (reference data up to the fourth quarter of 2016)
Table 1: Current account of the euro area
Table 2: Balance of payments of the euro area
Table 3: Reserve assets of the euro area
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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.