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Euro zone Dec trade surplus rises more than expected

BRUSSELS, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The euro zone's trade surpluswith the rest of the world was bigger than expected in December,data showed on Monday, adding a positive contribution to theotherwise shrinking gross domestic product.

The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said theunadjusted trade surplus of the 19 countries sharing the eurowas 29.2 billion euros in December, up from 22.6 billion a yearearlier and beating expectations of a 25.3 billion surplus.

In the whole of 2020, when the COVID-19 ravaged the economycausing a deep recession, the single currency area stillrecorded a 234.5 billion euro trade surplus, more than the 221.0billion in 2019 as exports fell less than imports.

Eurostat data showed it was mainly much smaller imports ofenergy, where there deficit fell to only 159 billion euros from260 billion in 2019, that made the difference, offsetting asmaller surplus from exports of machinery and cars.

The European Union's trade deficit with Russia, its main gasand oil provider, fell to 16.2 billion euros from 57.3 billionin 2019 and swung to a 6.3 billion euro surplus with anotherenergy supplier Norway, from a gap of 2.6 the year before.

Adjusted for seasonal swings, the euro zone's trade surpluswith the rest of the world was 27.5 billion euros in December,up from 24.9 billion in November.(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)