LONDON (Dow Jones)--The euro zone's trade surplus with the rest of the world narrowed in July from June, but export growth remained strong despite the strength of the region's currency.
The 13 countries that share the euro recorded a surplus of EUR4.6 billion in trade in goods with the rest of the world in July, the European statistics agency Eurostat said Monday, narrower than the figure reported in June, but well ahead of the EUR1.1 billion surplus recorded a year earlier.
Eurostat revised June's surplus down to EUR7.6 billion from an originally reported EUR7.8 billion surplus.
The data came in below the EUR5.1 billion surplus predicted by economists in a Dow Jones survey last week, but still suggest that exports continue to perform well.
Eurostat said exports grew 15% year-on-year, rising to EUR129.7 billion from EUR113.1 billion, while imports rose 12%, and the euro zone's internal dispatches grew 10%.
The recent strength of the euro against the dollar has prompted complaints from some politicians that the exchange rate would harm exports and business prospects for the region. Last week, the euro reached a fresh new high against the dollar.
And while Monday's data suggest that the currency isn't affecting export growth, they are unlikely to affect the European Central Bank's outlook on interest rates.
The ECB left its key interest rate on hold at its September monthly policy meeting due to uncertainty about the impact of the ongoing liquidity crisis that has been affecting financial markets since the end of July.
Many economists had expected the ECB's Governing Council to raise the rate by 25 basis points to 4.25% before the year's end, but many now think this is heavily dependent on whether or not the market turbulence persists.
In the first six months of the year, the data showed that the euro zone's trade surplus with the U.K. increased, compared with the first six months of 2006, while its surplus with the U.S. fell.
The region's deficit with China continued to widen, while the deficit with Russia narrowed further.
The euro zone's energy deficit was EUR105.7 billion in the six months to June, slightly narrower than the EUR125.4 billion deficit recorded in the six months to June 2006.
Exports of manufactured goods remained strong, growing 10% on the year.
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