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South Africa posts trade surplus after data shake up

South Africa posted a rare trade surplus in November, official statistics showed Monday, amid a shakeup in the way the data is calculated.

Statistics South Africa said Africa’s largest economy reached a 770 million rand ($74 million) surplus last month, the first in almost two years.

Following months of crippling auto strikes, the sector bounced back, with exports of vehicles, aircraft and vessels up 34 percent from October.

But support also came from the inclusion of Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland in the data, four countries with which South Africa shares a customs union.

Although South Africa would have posted a deficit of $880 million without their inclusion, analysts nonetheless saw the data as positive.

“A gradual improvement is expected as 2014 progresses provided the global environment is favourable and local production picks up,” Nedbank economists told clients.