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Euro area monthly balance of payments: March 2019

  • In March 2019 the current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €25 billion, compared with a surplus of €28 billion in February 2019.[1]
  • In the 12-month period to March 2019, the current account recorded a surplus of €328 billion (2.8% of euro area GDP), down from €376 billion (3.3% of euro area GDP) in the 12 months to March 2018.
  • In the financial account, euro area residents made net acquisitions of foreign portfolio investment securities totalling €45 billion in the 12-month period to March 2019 (decreasing from €671 billion in the 12 months to March 2018). Non-residents made net sales of euro area portfolio investment securities totalling €101 billion (in comparison with net purchases of €408 billion).

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 March 2019, a decrease of €3 billion from the previous month (see Chart 1 and Table 1). Surpluses were recorded for goods (€24 billion), services (€8 billion) and primary income (€4 billion). These were partly offset by a deficit for secondary income (€11 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 March 2019, the current account recorded a surplus of €328 billion (2.8% of euro area GDP), compared with a surplus of €376 billion (3.3% of euro area GDP) in the 12 months to March 2018. This decline was driven mainly by smaller surpluses for goods (down from €325 billion to €276 billion) and services (down from €109 billion to €101 billion), and by a larger deficit for secondary income (up from €143 billion to €156 billion). These developments were only partly offset by a larger surplus for primary income (up from €85 billion to €107 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 €248 billion in non-euro area assets in the 12-month period to March 2019, compared with net investments of €145 billion in the 12 months to March 2018 (see Chart 2 and Table 2). Non-residents also made net disinvestments in the euro area of €195 billion, following net investments of €34 billion.

 

In portfolio investment, net acquisitions of foreign debt securities by euro area residents decreased to €89 billion in the 12-month period to March 2019, down from €446 billion in the 12 months to March 2018. Over the same period, a shift was observed in the investment activity of euro area residents in foreign equity, with net purchases of €224 billion in the 12-month period to March 2018 being followed by net sales of €44 billion in the 12 months to March 2019. Non-residents’ net purchases of euro area equity fell to €41 billion in the 12 months to March 2019, down from €466 billion in the 12 months to March 2018. At the same time, their net sales of euro area debt securities increased from €58 billion in the 12-month period to March 2018 to €142 billion in the 12 months to March 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 €218 billion in the 12 months to March 2019 (compared with €142 billion in the 12 months to March 2018). Furthermore, their net incurrence of liabilities increased to €178 billion, from €136 billion.

Chart 3

Monetary presentation of the balance of payments

(EUR billions, 12-month cumulated data)

Source: ECB.
Notes: MFI net external assets as reported in the consolidated MFI balance sheet items 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, other investment and statistical discrepancies.

The monetary presentation of the balance of payments (see Chart 3) shows that the net external assets of euro area MFIs increased by €126 billion in the 12-month period to March 2019. This increase was driven mainly by the euro area’s current and capital accounts surplus and, to a lesser extent, by non‑MFIs’ net inflows in portfolio investment equity and direct investment. This was partly offset by euro area non-MFIs’ net outflows in portfolio investment debt securities.

 

In March 2019 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets increased to €741.1 billion, up from €732.9 billion in the previous month (see Table 3). This increase of €8.2 billion was driven mainly by net acquisitions of assets (€5.2 billion) and positive exchange rate changes (€4.1 billion). These developments were partly offset by negative price changes (€0.8 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.

Data for the reserve assets of the euro area

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for January and February 2019. These revisions did not significantly alter the figures previously published.

Next press releases:

  • monthly balance of payments: 19 June 2019 (reference data up to April 2019)
  • quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 3 July 2019 (reference data up to the first quarter of 2019)

 

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

Notes

Hyperlinks in this press release lead to data that may change with subsequent releases as a result of revisions.

[1] Current account data are seasonally and working day-adjusted, unless otherwise indicated, whereas capital and financial account data are neither seasonally nor working day-adjusted.

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