[BRUSSELS] The eurozone trade surplus narrowed slightly in November, official data showed Thursday, though a slight rise in exports offered a glimmer of hope for more solid growth in the struggling single currency bloc.
The eurozone posted a 20.0-billion-euro (US$23.5 billion) trade surplus in November, down from 23.6 billion euros the month before.
Exports rose by 0.2 per cent month-on-month, but this will not be enough to counter expectations that the European Central Bank will launch a unprecedented bond-buying programme next week to fight deflation in the eurozone as the economy falters.
The EU's official Eurostat agency said seasonally adjusted exports rose to 162.6 billion euros, which was one per cent higher than 12 months before.
Imports remained flat from the month before and were down about 2.0 per cent from a year earlier.
Across the whole 28-nation European Union, exports rose by 0.9 per cent from October, while imports fell by 1.1 per cent.
The biggest jumps in exports from across the EU, the word's biggest economy, were to China, South Korea and the United States.
The trade balance measures the difference between imports and exports and its size varies greatly across the eurozone.
As expected, powerhouse Germany posted the EU's biggest trade surplus, 183.6 billion euros for the year to date, followed by the Netherlands at 50.6 billion euros.
Non-eurozone Britain posted the widest trade deficit, at 114.5 billion euros, followed by France, Spain and Greece.