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Norway April Unemployment Holds at 3% as Recovery Gains Pace

Norway’s unemployment rate was unchanged in the April quarter as record spending in the nation’s oil and gas industry is feeding through to the rest of the second-largest Nordic economy.

The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate remained at 3 percent in the quarter, Statistics Norway said today. The median estimate of 10 economists in a Bloomberg survey was for an unchanged rate at 3 percent.

Record investments in the country’s offshore oil and gas fields have shielded Europe’s second-largest oil and gas exporter from the region’s debt crisis. The central bank this month raised its growth forecast for the mainland economy, which excludes oil and gas output, to 3.75 percent this year from an estimate of 3.25 percent.

The bank held interest rates unchanged this month for a second meeting, after two cuts since December, and signaled it may start raising rates in the first quarter, earlier than previously projected. Low borrowing cost and falling unemployment have boosted consumption and household borrowing.

That bank cut its unemployment forecasts to 3 percent this year and next, from a March forecast of 3.25 percent in 2012 and 3.5 percent in 2013.

Consumer confidence rose to a 12-month high this quarter, while home prices rose an annual 7 percent last month, and are up almost 30 percent since 2008.

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