PRESS RELEASE

Euro area monthly balance of payments (August 2017)

20 October 2017
  • In August 2017 the current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €33.3 billion.
  • In the financial account, combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net acquisitions of assets of €82 billion and net disposals of liabilities of €7 billion.

Current account

The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €33.3 billion in August 2017 (see Table 1). This reflected surpluses for goods (€28.2 billion), primary income (€10.3 billion) and services (€7.2 billion), which were partly offset by a deficit for secondary income (€12.4 billion).

The 12-month cumulated current account for the period ending in August 2017 recorded a surplus of €338.5 billion (3.1% of euro area GDP), compared with one of €358.1 billion (3.3% of euro area GDP) for the 12 months to August 2016 (see Table 1 and Chart 1). This development was due to a decrease in the surplus for goods (from €374.1 billion to €339.0 billion) and an increase in the deficit for secondary income (from €131.9 billion to €150.2 billion). These were partly offset by increases in the surpluses for primary income (from €66.1 billion to €90.9 billion) and services (from €49.9 billion to €58.8 billion).

Financial account

In August 2017 combined direct and portfolio investment recorded net acquisitions of assets (€82 billion) and net disposals of liabilities (€7 billion) (see Table 2).

Euro area residents recorded a net increase of €13 billion of direct investment assets as a result of net investments in both equity (€4 billion) and debt instruments (€8 billion). Direct investment liabilities increased by €19 billion as a result of net investments in euro area debt instruments (€20 billion) by non-euro area residents. This was partly offset by net disinvestments in equity by non-euro area residents (€1 billion).

With regard to portfolio investment assets, euro area residents made net purchases of foreign securities amounting to €69 billion. This resulted from net acquisitions of equity (€22 billion) and both short-term and long-term debt securities (€8 billion and €39 billion respectively). Portfolio investment liabilities decreased by €26 billion as a result of non-euro area residents’ net disposals of euro area debt securities, both short-term (€4 billion) and long-term (€41 billion), which were partly offset by net acquisitions of euro area equity (€19 billion) by non-euro area residents.

The euro area net financial derivatives account (assets minus liabilities) recorded negative net flows of €8 billion.

Other investment recorded decreases of €16 billion in assets and increases of €23 billion in liabilities. The decrease in assets was largely explained by MFIs (excluding the Eurosystem) (€14 billion) and, to a lesser extent, by the other sectors (€4 billion). The increase in liabilities was attributable to the Eurosystem (€15 billion) and other sectors (€9 billion).

In the 12 months to August 2017 combined direct and portfolio investment recorded increases of €747 billion in assets and €298 billion in liabilities, compared with increases of €1,075 billion and €491 billion respectively in the 12 months to August 2016. This resulted primarily from a decrease in the direct investment activities of both euro area residents abroad and non-residents in the euro area, with the net acquisition of equity assets decreasing from €602 billion to €163 billion and a shift in equity liabilities, from net investments of non-euro area residents of €427 billion to net disinvestments of €27 billion. The changes in direct investment were partly offset by the developments in portfolio investment, in particular those related to transactions in equity. On the asset side, there was a shift from net sales of foreign equity by euro area residents of €7 billion to net purchases of €147 billion. On the liabilities side, the non-euro area residents increased the net purchases of euro area equities from €134 billion to €333 billion.

According to the monetary presentation of the balance of payments, the net external assets of euro area monetary financial institutions (MFIs) decreased by €132 billion in the 12 months to August 2017, compared with a decrease of €157 billion in the 12 months to August 2016. This still reflects primarily a 12-month cumulated current account surplus (€313.6 billion), whose counterpart entries as in the previous 12 months are observed in net financial transactions by non-MFIs.

In August 2017 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets increased to €673.7 billion from €668.8 billion in the previous month (see Table 3). This increase (€4.9 billion) is explained by positive price changes (€8.1 billion), particularly of monetary gold, which more than offset net disinvestments (€0.7 billion) and negative exchange rate developments (€2.3 billion).

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for July 2017. These revisions have not significantly altered the figures previously published. In addition, this press release includes revisions to the seasonal adjusted series from January 1999 for all the components of the current account.

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: 17 November 2017 (reference data up to September 2017)
  • quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 11 January 2017 (reference data up to the third quarter of 2017).

Annexes

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