Norwegian Retail Sales Growth Slows Amid Rising Unemployment

Norwegian retail sales growth slowed in February as households curbed spending amid rising unemployment in Europe’s second-richest nation per capita.

Retail sales, excluding motor vehicles and petrol stations, gained 0.5 percent in the month, slowing from 1.2 percent in January. the Oslo-based statistics office said today. They fell 0.6 percent in the year. Sales were estimated to rise 0.2 percent in the month, according to a Bloomberg survey.

A recession in debt-stricken Europe, Norway’s biggest trading partner, has started to hurt the second-biggest Nordic economy. Weaker growth prospects are feeding through to the labor market, pushing unemployment to 3.6 percent in the January quarter -- the highest level in more than two years, according to Statistics Norway.

Policy makers held Norges Bank’s their benchmark deposit rate unchanged at 1.5 percent last month and signaled a possible rate cut to limit krone gains and boost growth.

Growth in the mainland economy, which excludes oil, gas and shipping, is estimated to slow to 2.75 percent in 2013 from 3.5 percent last year, according to central bank forecasts.

Norges Bank will publish its next rate decision in May.

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 in Oslo at jbergman@bloomberg.net

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