Lebanon's balance of payments (BoP) turned to a USD 504mn surplus in September from USD 223mn deficit the previous month, the Association of Banks in Lebanon said on Nov 25. The reading was lifted by better seasonal tourism activity and a narrowing trade deficit. The latter shrank to USD 1.28bn in September from USD 1.55bn a month earlier. The BoP reported a USD 92mn deficit in September 2012.
In January-September, the BoP deficit narrowed to USD 676mn from USD 1.18bn at end-August. The reading resulted from a USD 2.278bn increase in net foreign assets of the central bank that was mitigated by a USD 2.954bn drop in net foreign assets of Lebanese banks and financial institutions.
IntelliNews comment: Tourism activity in Lebanon traditionally peaks in Q4 ahead of the end-of-year festivities when a large number of Lebanese expatriates and even Arab and EU nationals travel to the country. In case the security situation remains relatively stable (despite sporadic turmoil), the services income will likely improve further and help strengthen the BoP surplus in the near term.
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