India's Q1 balance of payments surplus surprise an anomaly - economists

By Anushka Trivedi

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's balance of payments unexpectedly was in surplus in the April-June quarter, even as the current account deficit widened, but economists said this positive reading was likely an anomaly.

The Reserve Bank of India data on Thursday showed the country's balance of payments came at a surplus of $4.6 billion for the quarter, compared to a deficit of $16 billion in the preceding quarter.

The country's capital account registered a surplus due to a sharp increase in banking capital, contributing to a surplus in balance of payments (BoP), said Suvodeep Rakshit, senior economist at Kotak Institutional Equities.

Robust services revenue led to CAD coming in less than forecasts, although the $23.90 billion figure was still at a near decade-high, Rakshit noted.

The relief in the BoP data may not last, said economists.

"We see first-quarter BoP surplus as an anomaly, as the banking capital will see a reversal in coming quarters, while the rest of the non-foreign direct investment capital flows would remain susceptible to global risk appetite," said Madhavi Arora, lead economist, Emkay Global Financial Services.

Still, the positive surprise could reduce the expected BoP deficit for the full year.

"The size of BoP deficit could sequentially moderate in the second-half compared to the fist half. We revise our full-year BoP deficit lower by $10 billion to $50 billion", QuantEco Research economists said in a note.

(Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Mumbai; Editing by Savio D'Souza)