BRUSSELS, March 18 (Reuters) - Euro zone imports dropped year-on-year in January while exports remained flat, boosting the single currency area’s trade surplus, data from the European Union’s statistics office showed on Wednesday.
Eurostat said unadjusted imports fell 6 percent in annual terms in January to 140.3 billion euros ($148.8 billion) while exports were almost unchanged at 148.2 billion euros, producing a surplus of 7.9 billion euros, well below market expectations of 15 billion.
Eurostat said that, due to technical problems, seasonally adjusted numbers were not available in this data release.
The unadjusted balance was mainly due to a plunge in the cost of energy imports which for the whole European Union of 28 countries plummeted 37 percent year-on-year in January to 26.4 billion euros. The EU deficit in energy trade fell to 20 billion euros from 32.6 billion a year earlier.
While the EU’s trade deficit with Russia, its biggest energy supplier, almost halved to 5.4 billion euros in January, the trade gap with China grew to 18.6 billion euros from 13.7 billion a year earlier. ($1 = 0.9430 euros) (Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)