WASHINGTON — The U.S. fourth-quarter current account balance was a $172.9 billion deficit, 4.9% of gross domestic product, after a $177.4 billion shortfall in the third quarter, an improvement that reflects increased surpluses on investment income and services.

There were lessened direct investment payments on foreign-owned assets and services. Unilateral transfers rose.

In securities funding, net foreign purchases of Treasuries were $69.8 billion after $50.3 billion in the third quarter. But there were net purchases of $79.8 billion other securities after $43.1 billion n in sales in the quarter.

— Market News International

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