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 today. 

Eurostat said unadjusted imports fell 6% in annual terms in January to €140.3 billion while exports were almost unchanged at €148.2 billion. 

This resulted in a surplus of €7.9 billion, 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% year-on-year in January to €26.4 billion. 

The EU deficit in energy trade fell to €20 billion 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 in January, the trade gap with China grew to €18.6 billion from €13.7 billion a year earlier.