PRESS RELEASE

Euro area monthly balance of payments (January 2017)

22 March 2017

In January 2017 the current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €24.1 billion.[1]

In the financial account, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net acquisitions of assets of €153 billion and net incurrences of liabilities of €120 billion.

Chart l: Balance of payments of the euro area January 2017: 12-month cumulated transactions

Current account

The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €24.1 billion in January 2017 (see Table 1). This reflected surpluses for goods (€24.1 billion), primary income (€12.1 billion) and services (€3.5 billion), which were partly offset by a deficit for secondary income (€15.5 billion).

The 12-month cumulated current account for the period ending in January 2017 recorded a surplus of €357.9 billion (3.3% of euro area GDP), compared with one of €321.6 billion (3.1% of euro area GDP) for the 12 months to January 2016 (see Table 1 and Chart 1). This was due to increases in the surpluses for goods (from €346.8 billion to €366.3 billion), primary income (from €42.5 billion to €59.3 billion) and services (from €58.6 billion to €68.5 billion). These were partly offset by an increase in the deficit for secondary income (from €126.3 billion to €136.3 billion).

Financial account

In January 2017 combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net acquisitions of assets of €153 billion and net incurrences of liabilities of €120 billion (see Table 2).

Euro area residents recorded net acquisitions of €109 billion of direct investment assets as a result of net acquisitions of both equity (€103 billion) and debt instruments (€6 billion). Direct investment liabilities increased by €92 billion as a result of net acquisitions of euro area equity (€90 billion) and debt instruments (€3 billion) by non-euro area residents.

As regards portfolio investment assets, euro area residents made net acquisitions of foreign securities amounting to €44 billion. This resulted from net purchases of long-term debt securities (€25 billion) and equity (€24 billion), which were partly offset by net sales of short-term debt securities (€5 billion). Portfolio investment liabilities recorded net incurrences of €27 billion as a result of net acquisitions of euro area equity (€20 billion) and short-term debt securities (€22 billion) by non-euro area residents. These were partly offset by net sales/amortisations of euro area long-term debt securities (€15 billion) by non‑euro area residents.

The euro area net financial derivatives account (assets minus liabilities) recorded positive net flows of €4 billion.

Other investment recorded increases of €231 billion in assets and €243 billion in liabilities. The net acquisition of foreign assets by euro area residents is mainly attributable to the MFI sector (excluding the Eurosystem) (€237 billion). The net incurrence of liabilities can also be explained by the MFI sector (excluding the Eurosystem) (€259 billion) and, to a limited extent, by other sectors (€22 billion).

In the 12 months to January 2017 combined direct and portfolio investment recorded increases of €767 billion in assets and €63 billion in liabilities, compared with increases of €1,125 billion and €684 billion respectively in the 12 months to January 2016. 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 €730 billion to €381 billion and the net incurrence of liabilities decreasing from €568 billion to €66 billion.

According to the monetary presentation of the balance of payments, the net external assets of euro area MFIs decreased by €193 billion in the 12 months to January 2017, compared with a decrease of €56 billion in the 12 months to January 2016. This reflected an increase in the surplus in the current and capital account balance (from €305 billion to €358 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 (€35 billion) to net sales/amortisations (€155 billion).

In January 2017 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets decreased by €0.7 billion to €707.0 billion (see Table 3). This can be explained by net sales of reserve assets (€5.1 billion) and negative exchange rate developments (€3.4 billion), which were almost entirely offset by positive price revaluations, particularly of monetary gold (€7.7 billion).

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for the period from October to December 2016. These revisions have not significantly altered the figures previously published.

Additional information

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

Methodological information

Monetary presentation of the balance of payments

Next press releases:

  • Quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 6 April 2017 (reference data up to the fourth quarter of 2016);
  • Monthly balance of payments: 21 April 2017 (reference data up to February 2017);

Annexes

For media enquiries, 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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