BEIRUT: Lebanon’s balance of payments recorded a deficit of $997.6 million in the first five months of 2012, 4.4 percent smaller than the deficit registered during the same period last year, according to data released by the Central Bank. Outflows of net foreign assets for the second consecutive year reflect the slow-recovering confidence of investors and tourists in Lebanon, amid the region’s current political conditions. Capital inflows from foreign investment and services usually more than cover the trade deficit, which is the item that is most responsible for foreign currency outflows. In contrast, the balance of payments had recorded surpluses of $1.66 billion and $1.21 billion in the same period of 2009 and 2010 respectively. Up to May 2012, NFA of it rose by $896 million while NFA of commercial banks dropped $1.89 billion. In May alone, the balance of payments was in deficit $81.5 million, substantially lower than the $445.2 million deficit seen in May 2011.