Eurozone March balance of payments back in the black: ECB

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The eurozone's balance of payments returned to the black in March, posting a surplus of 1.7 billion euros (2.1 billion dollars), the European Central Bank said on Friday.

In February, the balance of payments, an overall measure of all current payments into and out of a country or region, posted a deficit of 4.5 billion euros, revised data from the ECB showed.

The figures are often revised sharply higher or lower, but if confirmed, the March surplus would be the eurozone's first since last July.

On the financial account, the ECB reported net outflows of 38 billion euros in March, as less money was ploughed into eurozone assets than was invested abroad by eurozone companies and institutions.

The balance of payments, which includes payments for imports and exports of trade in goods and services, is a closely watched indicator of an area's ability to pay its way in the world.

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

The overall figure for the eurozone combines surpluses from strong exporting nations such as Germany with the balances of countries that have structural external deficits.

On a 12-month cumulative basis, the eurozone's current account showed a provisional deficit of 41.7 billion euros, or around 0.5 percent of the 16-nation bloc's gross domestic product.

© 2010 AFP

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