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BERLIN (Reuters) - German exports rose more strongly than expected in May, outpacing a solid increase in imports and widening the trade surplus of Europe's biggest economy, data showed on Monday.
Seasonally adjusted exports climbed 1.4 percent - their fifth consecutive monthly increase - while imports were up 1.2 percent, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed.
Both figures came in stronger than expected: A Reuters poll had pointed to exports edging up 0.3 percent and imports rising by 0.5 percent.
The seasonally adjusted trade surplus edged up to 20.3 billion euros from a revised 19.7 billion euros in April. The May reading was in line with the Reuters consensus forecast of 20.3 billion euros.
Germany's wider current account surplus, which measures the flow of goods, services and investments, rose to 17.3 billion euros after a revised 14.9 billion euros in April, unadjusted data showed.
The figures are likely to add fuel to the debate about Germany's export strength after the International Monetary Fund on Friday repeated its call for Berlin to increase investment as a way to reduce its current account surplus, increase imports and hence support the economic recovery in other countries.
Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Michelle Martin