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NEW YORK, Feb 8 AFP

February 09 2013, 01:48AM

US stocks have opened higher following an unexpected drop in the trade deficit and strong trade data out of China.

Five minutes into trade on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 23.42 points (0.17 per cent) at 13,967.47.

The S&P 500 index rose 3.57 (0.24 per cent) to 1,512.96, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 13.73 (0.43 per cent) to 3,178.86.

The US trade deficit shrank more than expected in December, to $US38.5 billion ($A37.64 billion) instead of the $45.4 billion estimated by analysts.

It was announced on Friday that China's trade surplus rose sharply in January, with both exports and imports beating expectations, as the country maintained its economic recovery on improving demand.