UPDATE 1-Argentina trade surplus widens in June to $1.16 bln

Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:54pm EDT

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BUENOS AIRES, July 23 (Reuters) - Argentina's June trade surplus grew by 26.9 percent to $1.16 billion from $910 million in the same month last year, the government's national statistics institute said on Tuesday.

Exports grew by 8 percent from a year earlier, to $7.55 billion, reflecting a stronger grains harvest after last year's drought. Imports grew a more modest 5 percent to $6.4 billion, the INDEC institute said.

A widening trade surplus is good news for the government, which needs to boost dollar supplies on the tightly controlled currency market. Raw material exports rose 20 percent in June as the corn and soybean harvests advanced.

Argentina's trade surplus was $4.95 billion in the first half of the year, the INDEC institute said in a monthly report, down 26 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Latin America's No. 3 economy cooled abruptly in 2012 and earlier this year because of high inflation and the negative impact of currency controls on investment.

But the economy has shown signs of improving more recently, thanks to a push in public spending ahead of October's mid-term election, an increase in auto production and rising corn and soy output.

Economic activity jumped 7.8 percent in May from a year earlier, President Cristina Fernandez said last week.

Fernandez's government repays debts to private creditors using the central bank's foreign currency reserves. The country has been effectively shut out of global credit markets since its massive sovereign default in 2002.

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