The seasonally adjusted surplus was $71 million in the fourth quarter, down from a revised $224 million in the July- September period, the statistics bureau said in an e-mailed statement. For the year, the country posted a deficit of $199 million, compared with a revised surplus of $3.4 billion in 2011 and $8.1 billion in 2010.
Israel had maintained an annual surplus in its current account since 2003, driven by exports, which make up about 40 percent of gross domestic product. The European economic crisis and decline in global trade cut demand for Israeli products, sending the current account into deficit for three quarters, beginning at the end of last year.
“The prospects are good; this is an improving trend,” Daniel Hewitt, senior emerging-market economist at Barclays Plc in London, said before the announcement. “The 12-month current account had been widening and we now have a reversal.”
Israel posted a $324 million surplus in trade in goods and services in the fourth quarter, compared with a $213 million surplus the previous three months, the bureau said.
The full-year deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product was 0.1 percent of gross domestic product, the bureau said, compared with a median forecast of 0.8 percent deficit made by three economists surveyed by Bloomberg in January.
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