BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The euro zone's trade surplus rose year-on-year in July as exports grew faster than imports, pointing to a positive contribution to economic growth at the start of the third quarter, the European Union's Statistics office data showed.
Eurostat said the non-seasonally adjusted external trade surplus of the 18 countries sharing the euro was 21.2 billion euros (27.39 billion US dollar) in July, up from 18.0 billion in July 2013. Exports increased 3 percent year-on-year while imports only 1 percent.
Adjusted for seasonal swings, however, and on a month-on-month basis, exports edged 0.2 percent lower in July against June while imports rose 0.9 percent.
The seasonally adjusted trade balance was a 12.2 billion surplus, down from 13.8 billion in June and 15.2 billion in May.
There was no detailed data for July yet, but Eurostat said that in the first six months of the year the euro zone's trade deficit narrowed to 144.9 billion euros from 157.8 billion in the first six months of 2013.
The trade deficit with Russia, Europe's main oil and gas supplier, rose slightly to 31.7 billion euros in the January-June period from 29.5 billion in the same period of 2013, because euro zone experts to Russia tumbled 14 percent and the value of imports fell only 6 percent.
The biggest contributions to the euro zone trade surplus came from a strong exports increase to Britain and the United States and as well as China.
Germany remains Europe's biggest exporter with a trade surplus of 100.7 billion euros in the first six months of the year. Britain is Europe's biggest importer, with a trade deficit of 60.2 billion euros in the first six months.
Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Martin Santa