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Euro zone swings to small trade surplus in Feb

The euro zone swung to a trade surplus in February from a deficit the previous month and a year earlier as exports grew faster, than imports despite a strong euro, European Union statistics office data showed.

Eurostat said the 15 countries using the euro had an €800 million ($1.28 billion) trade surplus in February against an €11.0 billion deficit in January and a €1.6 billion gap a year earlier, according to seasonally unadjusted data. Exports grew by 13% year-on-year in February while imports rose 11%, the data showed. Adjusted for seasonal swings, the trade surplus was even higher at €2.1 billion against a €1 billion deficit in January, with exports rising 2% month-on-month and imports shrinking 0.4%.

The euro zone recorded strong export growth even though the euro was 13% stronger on a trade-weighted basis than 12 months earlier and 1% higher than in January. Since February, the euro has risen to new highs against the currencies of the euro zone’s two biggest trading partners -- Britain and the United States.

Detailed data for February was not yet available, but January numbers showed the euro zone’s trade surplus with both Britain and the United States shrank year-on-year as exports to the US stalled and euro zone imports from Britain grew twice as fast as exports. The single currency area’s long-standing trade deficit with China and Russia deepened in January to €11 billion and €4.3 billion respectively from €10.8 and €3.4 billion. (Reuters)