February 25, 2016 / 5:35 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Mexico current account deficit deepest in at least 20 years

(Adds data, historical comparisons)

MEXICO CITY, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Mexico’s current account deficit swelled last year to its largest in at least 20 years, as a collapse in oil prices widened its shortfall in foreign trade, central bank figures showed on Thursday.

The current account deficit widened to $32.38 billion from $24.85 billion in 2014, its biggest since at least 1995.

As a proportion of the gross domestic product it rose last year to 2.8 percent, its largest since 1998. It was 1.9 percent of GDP in 2014.

The trade deficit in goods mushroomed in 2015 to $14.46 billion dollars from $2.85 billion in 2014. The petroleum component of foreign trade slumped to a $9.9 billion deficit from a $1.1 billion surplus in 2014.

Sinking oil prices have pushed Mexico’s peso to a series of record lows in recent months, hammering public finances.

Earlier this month, Mexico’s government announced budget cuts and a surprise rate hike to shield the peso from further slumps and keep inflation expectations from spiking.

The balance of payments’ current account is a broad measure of foreign transactions, encompassing trade in goods and services as well as transfers like remittances from its workers abroad.

FOREIGNERS PULL OUT INVESTMENTS IN MEXICAN DEBT, STOCKS

In the Mexican central bank’s balance of payments’ financial account, similar to what is known as the capital account in other countries, data showed foreigners withdrew a net $1.27 billion out of Mexican peso-denominated debt during the fourth quarter after pumping in a net $1.65 billion in the prior quarter, the bank said.

They also decreased holdings of Mexican stocks during the final quarter of 2015 by $960 million. In the previous quarter, investors boosted their holdings by a net $1.17 billion in local stocks, the central bank said.

In the fourth quarter, the current account deficit narrowed to $7.7 billion from $8.18 billion in the third quarter.

Foreign direct investment fell to $3.68 billion during the fourth quarter, down from $8.73 billion in the third quarter. (Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter, Editing by W Simon)

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