Egypt Q4 balance of payments deficit $5.7 billion

Egypt's balance of payments slid into a deficit of $5.65 billion in the politically-fraught final quarter of 2011, turning around a year-earlier surplus of $557.0 million, central bank figures indicated on Sunday.

Egypt's economy had been hammered by a year of turmoil since its popular uprising, which scared away tourists and investors, two of the country's main sources of foreign exchange, and triggered a series of worker strikes.

In October, November and December, uncertainty ahead of the country's first parliamentary election since Hosni Mubarak was driven from power and an outbreak of street violence spurred a monthly outflow of foreign reserves of around $2 billion.

The country's current account deficit for the quarter widened to $1.88 billion from a year-earlier deficit of $1.26 billion. Reuters calculated quarterly numbers by subtracting the Jul-Sep from the Jul-Dec figures supplied by the central bank.

Foreign direct investment dropped to a negative $858.2 million from a positive $656.0 million a year earlier, the central bank said.

This included $1.7 billion in net disinvestment in the petroleum sector compared to a net disinvestment of only $31.5 million in the same quarter of 2010.

Tourism receipts dropped to $2.36 billion in the fourth quarter from $3.29 billion in the same quarter of 2010.

Remittances, mainly sent by Egyptians working abroad, rose to $3.89 billion in the fourth quarter from $3.11 billion a year earlier.

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