March 18 (Bloomberg) -- Euro-area exports increased in January, led by Germany and Italy, adding to signs that the currency bloc is beginning to emerge from a recession.
Exports rose a seasonally adjusted 2 percent from December, when they decreased 2 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Imports increased 3.1 percent and the trade surplus narrowed to 9 billion euros ($11.7 billion) from 10.3 billion euros in the previous month.
The euro-area economy has contracted for five straight quarters and is forecast to shrink 0.1 percent in the first three months of 2013 before returning to growth, the median of 24 economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg News survey shows. The European Central Bank forecasts the economy will contract 0.5 percent this year.
While Europe’s common currency has weakened 1.8 percent against the dollar this year, it’s up from a two-year low of $1.2043 on July 24. That was just days before ECB President Mario Draghi pledged to do whatever it takes to preserve the currency union. The European currency traded at $1.2962 at 10:35 a.m. in Brussels, down 0.9 percent on the day.
German exports increased 3.3 percent in January from a month earlier, today’s report showed. Shipments from France declined 0.8 percent, while Italian exports were up 3.8 percent.
To contact the reporter on this story: Corina Ruhe in Amsterdam at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at email@example.com