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France's trade deficit widened in January to 5.56 bln euros

PARIS, March 7 (Reuters) - France's trade deficit widened to stand at 5.56 billion euros ($6.90 billion) in January compared to a revised figure of 3.40 billion in December, according to seasonally adjusted data published on Wednesday by the customs office.

A Reuters poll of economists had given an average forecast for a trade deficit of 4.35 billion euros.

Separately, the Bank of France said the country's current account balance had shown a deficit of 1.6 billion euros in January, compared to 0.8 billion in the previous month.

BACKGROUND

France has run a trade deficit every month since May 2004 as French firms have seen their share of international markets dwindle in the face of declining competitiveness. France posted its biggest monthly deficit in April 2011 with a trade gap of 7.024 billion euros.

GRAPHICS

Monthly balance, imports and exports: http://reut.rs/2nKc3RU

Share of international trade: http://reut.rs/2eB1qS5

Trade balance excluding energy: http://reut.rs/2ey6kiJ ($1 = 0.8055 euros) (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta Editing by Geert de Clercq)