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  • Press release

Euro area monthly balance of payments: November 2020

19 January 2021

  • Current account recorded €25 billion surplus in November 2020, down from €26 billion in previous month
  • Current account surplus amounted to €231 billion (2.0% of euro area GDP) in 12 months to November 2020, down from €278 billion (2.3%) one year earlier
  • In financial account, euro area residents’ net acquisitions of foreign portfolio investment securities totalled €526 billion and non-residents’ net acquisitions of euro area portfolio investment securities totalled €231 billion in 12 months to November 2020

Chart 1

Euro area current account balance

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; working day and seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €25 billion in November 2020, decreasing by €1 billion from the previous month (see Chart 1 and Table 1). Surpluses were recorded for goods (€34 billion), services (€9 billion) and primary income (€1 billion). These were partly offset by a deficit for secondary income (€20 billion).

Table 1

Current account of the euro area

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; transactions; working day and seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Note: Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the current account of the euro area

In the 12 months to November 2020, the current account recorded a surplus of €231 billion (2.0% of euro area GDP), compared with a surplus of €278 billion (2.3% of euro area GDP) in the 12 months to November 2019. This decline was driven by reductions in the surpluses for services (down from €65 billion to €26 billion) and for primary income (down from €53 billion to €24 billion). These developments were partly offset by a larger surplus for goods (up from €320 billion to €335 billion) and a smaller deficit for secondary income (down from €159 billion to €155 billion).

Chart 2

Selected items of the euro area financial account

(EUR billions; 12-month cumulated data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: For assets, a positive (negative) number indicates net purchases (sales) of non-euro area instruments by euro area investors. For liabilities, a positive (negative) number indicates net sales (purchases) of euro area instruments by non-euro area investors.

In direct investment, euro area residents made net disinvestments of €23 billion in non-euro area assets in the 12-month period to November 2020, following net disinvestments of €65 billion in the 12 months to November 2019 (see Chart 2 and Table 2). Non-residents made net investments in euro area assets of €101 billion in the 12-month period to November 2020, after net investments of €7 billion in the 12 months to November 2019.

In portfolio investment, net purchases of foreign debt securities by euro area residents decreased to €363 billion in the 12-month period to November 2020, following net purchases of €373 billion in the 12 months to November 2019. Over the same period, euro area residents’ net purchases of foreign equity increased to €164 billion from €24 billion in the 12 months to November 2019. Non-residents made net purchases of euro area debt securities amounting to €126 billion in the 12 months to November 2020, following net purchases of €124 billion in the 12 months to November 2019. Over the same period, non-residents’ net purchases of euro area equity decreased to €106 billion from €303 billion in the 12 months to November 2019.

Table 2

Financial account of the euro area

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; transactions; non-working day and non-seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: Decreases in assets and liabilities are shown with a minus sign. Net financial derivatives are reported under assets. “MFIs” stands for monetary financial institutions. Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the financial account of the euro area

In other investment, euro area residents’ net acquisitions of foreign assets increased to €359 billion in the 12 months to November 2020 (following net acquisitions of €350 billion in the 12 months to November 2019), while their net incurrence of liabilities increased to €340 billion from €30 billion.

Chart 3

Monetary presentation of the balance of payments

(EUR billions; 12-month cumulated data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: MFI net external assets (enhanced) incorporates an adjustment to the MFI net external assets (as reported in the consolidated MFI balance sheet items statistics) based on information on MFI long-term liabilities held by non-residents, available in b.o.p. statistics. B.o.p. transactions refer only to transactions of non-MFI residents of the euro area. Financial transactions are shown as liabilities net of assets. “Other” includes financial derivatives and statistical discrepancies.

The monetary presentation of the balance of payments (see Chart 3) shows that the net external assets (enhanced) of euro area MFIs increased by €10 billion in the 12-month period to November 2020. This increase was driven by the current and capital accounts surplus and non-MFIs’ net inflows in direct investment. These developments were almost fully offset by euro area non-MFIs’ net outflows in portfolio investment equity and in other investment.

In November 2020 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets decreased to €859.4 billion, down from €914.7 billion in the previous month (see Table 3). This decrease was mostly driven by negative gold price changes (€47.1 billion) and, to a lesser extent, by negative exchange rate changes (€6.0 billion) and net sales of assets (€2.6 billion).

Table 3

Reserve assets of the euro area

(EUR billions; amounts outstanding at the end of the period, flows during the period; non-working day and non-seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Note: “Other reserve assets” comprises currency and deposits, securities, financial derivatives (net) and other claims. Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the reserve assets of the euro area

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for October 2020. These revisions did not significantly alter the figures previously published.

Next releases:

  • Monthly balance of payments: 19 February 2021 (reference data up to December 2020)
  • Quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 9 April 2021 (reference data up to the fourth quarter of 2020)

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

Notes

  • Current account data are always seasonally and working day-adjusted, unless otherwise indicated, whereas capital and financial account data are neither seasonally nor working day-adjusted.
  • Hyperlinks in this press release lead to data that may change with subsequent releases as a result of revisions.
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