Norwegian Credit Growth Unexpectedly Accelerates, Sales Rise

Norwegian credit growth unexpectedly accelerated in December as the country’s central bank cut interest rates to protect the economy from the fallout of Europe’s debt crisis.

Credit growth was 6.7 percent in December, up from 6.6 percent in November, the Oslo-based statistics agency said today. It was estimated to slow to 6.5 percent, according to the median forecast of 12 analysts.

Norway’s central bank cut its benchmark by half a percentage point last month to 1.75 percent and Governor Oeystein Olsen has signaled he is ready to ease policy further if growth prospects deteriorate. Central bank policy makers will meet on March 14 to discuss interest rate setting.

A separate report showed retail sales, excluding petrol and vehicles, rose 2.6 percent in December from a year earlier, beating a 2.2 percent growth estimate. Sales fell 0.3 percent in the month, the statistic office said.

The krone weakened 0.2 percent against the euro to 7.6560 by 10:10 a.m. in Oslo. It rose 0.3 percent to 5.7965 per dollar.

To contact the reporter on this story: Josiane Kremer in Oslo at jkremer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonas Bergman at jbergman@bloomberg.net

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