The eurozone had a bigger than expected unadjusted trade surplus in December, as exports surged eight per cent year-on-year and imports edged just one per cent higher, data showed.
The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said the trade surplus of the 18 countries sharing the euro last year was 24.3 billion euros, almost double the 13.6 billion in December 2013 and well above market expectations of 20.5 billion.
For the whole of 2014, exports rose 2 per cent over 2013 while imports were flat, bringing the overall trade surplus for the whole year to 194.8 billion euros from 152.3 billion in 2013.
More detailed data for December was not yet available, but numbers for the January-November period showed that much of the improvement in trade balance was due to a sharp fall in the deficit in the energy trade, thanks to plummeting oil prices.
Eurostat said that in the first 11 months of last year, the energy trade deficit fell to 256.7 billion euros from 292.5 billion in the same period of 2013.
Adjusted for seasonal swings, the eurozone’s trade surplus was only minimally smaller at 23.3 billion euros in December, as exports fell 1.1 per cent month-on-month and exports declined 2.4 per cent.