Eurozone trade deficit rises in February: ECB

19th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

The eurozone's current account deficit widened in February, the European Central Bank said Tuesday, also sharply revising upward its deficit figures for January.

According to the ECB's data, the current account deficit for the 17-nation eurozone was 7.2 billion euros ($10.3 billion) in February compared to 5.6 billion euros in January.

The current account on the balance of payments, which includes imports and exports in both goods and services plus capital transfers, is a closely tracked indicator of a country's or area's ability to pay its way in the world.

It is crucial for the long-term confidence of investors and trading partners.

The data have historically been subject to large revisions. The ECB's preliminary figure for January was 700 million euros.

Frank Engels, an economist at Barclays Capital, said the eurozone was importing more goods at higher prices, due to rising oil prices.

"The eurozone's import prices are increasing due to a spike in the price of raw materials. Imports are also being pulled higher by an increase in domestic demand," he told AFP.

The eurozone's deficit has widened considerably over the year.

Over the last 12 months, the deficit total amounted to 49.6 billion euros, or 0.5 percent of gross domestic product. This is much bigger than the previous year, when the deficit came to 15.9 billion euros.

The ECB said the widening of the deficit was due primarily to a large drop in the eurozone's goods surplus from 44.4 billion euros to 7.8 billion euros.

The eurozone last posted a current account surplus in January 2010.

© 2011 AFP

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