LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigeria’s trade balance turned positive in the fourth quarter of 2016 after exports rose by more than half, the national bureau of statistics said on Saturday, the first positive reading since the same quarter a year ago.

But Africa’s largest economy shrank 1.5 percent over the course of the full year due to lower oil revenues and a shortage of hard currency, its first annual contraction in quarter of a century.

With limited manufacturing capacity, Nigeria imports most of what it consumes. Fourth-quarter imports rose 46.4 percent from the previous year to 2.31 trillion naira ($7.6 billion), the statistics bureau said.

But exports more than compensated for that rise, jumping 53.5 percent in value terms from a year earlier to 2.98 trillion naira, the statistics bureau said.

The balance of trade for the fourth quarter was 671 billion naira. The net trade balance stood at minus 290 billion naira ($953 million) for all of 2016.

($1 = 304.2000 naira)

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Hugh Lawson)


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