The euro zone's foreign trade surplus soared more than expected in June from the previous month, data showed on Tuesday, as exports grew twice as fast as imports despite a strong euro.
The 13-nation single currency area's seasonally unadjusted trade surplus increased to 7.8 billion euros ($10.53 billion) from 1.7 billion euros in May, European Union statistics office Eurostat said.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the surplus to be 3.5 billion euros. Eurostat said exports grew by 9% year-on-year while imports rose 4%, while the euro zone's internal dispatches grew by 5%.
Rises in European Central Bank interest rates had strengthened the euro against the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen in the second quarter of the year, prompting complaints from some politicians that the exchange rate was hurting exports.
But the currency has since weakened.
Solid Economic Growth
Eurostat said the seasonally adjusted trade surplus grew to 5.3 billion euros in June from 3.9 billion in May as exports increased by 1.7% and imports by 0.7%.
The data confirmed economic growth remained solid in the second quarter. But analysts have scrapped their forecasts that the ECB will raise interest rates in September, due to turmoil in global financial markets.
The Eurostat data showed that euro zone exports to the United States eased by 2% in the January-May period and the trade surplus fell to 24.6 billion euros from 28.4 billion a year before.
With Japan, euro zone imports grew by 3% in the January-May period while exports were flat. The trade deficit with Japan widened to 10.2 billion euros from 9.6 billion.
Energy Deficit Falls
France, the most vocal critic of the euro's strength, saw its exports fall 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis in June, with imports down 3.0%.
Germany was the biggest contributor to the overall euro zone surplus, with a 7.3 billion euro positive balance.
Eurostat said the euro zone's deficit in energy trade fell to 89 billion euros in January-May on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, compared with 105.3 billion in the same period last year.
Its surplus in manufactured goods increased to 98.2 billion euros over the period from 88.8 billion.