Russia's current account of the balance of payments posted a surplus of $48.7bn in January-May 2019, expanding by $1.8bn year-on-year, according to the preliminary data by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR).
In the reporting period private sector capital outflow reached $35.2bn, doubling y/y from $18.9bn for the same period of 2018. Russia's international reserves increased by $28bn.
In quarter-on-quarter terms, simultaneous increase of the current account surplus and increase in the capital outflow "implies that there was either a quite significant narrowing of the current account surplus in May (to just $3.2bn) with almost no capital outflow or - what we think more likely - a revision of previous estimates," Sberbank CIB commented on June 13.
"We think the reported $32.8bn current account surplus in 1Q19 could have been revised downward," the bank believes.
The CBR commented that capital outflow in January-May was mostly due to "banking and other organisations purchasing foreign assets, other than the change in foreign liabilities, which remained minimal." In 2018 capital outflow from Russian jumped to $63bn from $25bn in 2017.
This corresponds with the previous report by bne IntelliNews, which noted that April balance of payments confirms the corporate preference to convert export proceeds into international assets, making foreign inflows into local state bonds the only support factor for the ruble exchange rate.