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Euro zone trade gap wider than expected

  The euro zone had a slightly wider than expected trade deficit in January as seasonally adjusted exports shrank faster than imports, data showed.

The unadjusted trade deficit in the 16 countries using the euro in January was €10.5 billion against a downwardly revised gap of €1.7 billion in December, the European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat, said on Monday.

Economists polled by Reuters had on average expected a January trade deficit of €9 billion.

Seasonally adjusted exports fell 10.7% and imports by 7.3% in January, compared with December 2008. On an unadjusted basis, imports sank 23% in January year-on-year while exports plunged 24%, Eurostat said.

Economists have blamed falling imports on shrinking domestic demand as the euro zone sinks deeper into its first recession. Declining exports are seen as a result of falling demand caused by the global slowdown. (Reuters)