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Sweden Retail Sales Grow at Fastest Pace in More Than Year

Swedish retail sales grew at the fastest pace in more than a year in May as confidence among consumers in the export-dependent Nordic economy remained buoyant amid the European debt crisis.

Sales growth accelerated to an annual 4.6 percent last month after rising 0.5 percent in April, Stockholm-based Statistics Sweden said today. The median estimate in a survey of nine economists by Bloomberg was for a 3.8 percent increase. Monthly retail sales rose 0.4 percent in May.

“Although recent data such as industry production and manufacturing and aggregate consumer confidence have slightly disappointed, consumers remain positive about their own ability to stay employed and their own economic outlook while remaining less confident about the economy as a whole,” said Per Sellden, an economist at Swedbank. “We think this, combined with lower mortgage interest rates and a stabilizing housing market, is what describes the continued resilience in retail sales.”

Swedish unemployment unexpectedly rose to 8.1 percent in May, the highest in a year, after industrial production slumped for a fifth time in six months by 6.2 percent the previous month compared with the same period a year ago.

Sweden, which relies on sales abroad for about half of its output, sends 70 percent of its exports to Europe. Growth in the largest Nordic economy will slow to 0.7 percent this year from 3.9 percent in 2011, the National Institute for Economic Research predicted on June 20.

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