The euro zone swung to a large trade deficit in September from a small surplus a year earlier due to a surge in the costs of imported energy in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

But the deficit was smaller than expected, data showed today.

The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said the seasonally unadjusted trade deficit of the 19 countries sharing the euro with the rest of the world was €34.4 billion compared to a €6.7 billion surplus 12 months earlier.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the deficit to reach €44.5 billion in September.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, the trade gap was even slightly higher at €37.7 billion, though declining from €47.6 billion in August and €40.5 billion in July.

Detailed data for the euro zone was not available, but the wider European Union's trade deficit with Russia, Europe's main energy supplier, surged to €125.7 billion in the first nine months of the year from €44.3 billion the same time last year.

In the first eight months of this year, the deficit with Russia was €115 billion.

The trade gap with another energy producer Norway, with which the EU is seeking to replace Russia as an energy supplier, showed an even more spectacular jump to €70.8 billion in the nine months from only €4.4 billion the year before.

The EU's deficit in energy trade rocketed to €491.4 billion in the first nine months of this year from €179.6 billion during the same time of 2021.

The trade gap with China, Europe's biggest trading partner, almost doubled to €300.2 billion in the January-September period from €166.5 billion the same time a year earlier.

The EU did record trade surpluses with the US, the UK and Switzerland and for food and drink and manufacturing as a whole.