Swedish inflation slowed to the lowest level in almost three years as the krona strengthened and Europe’s debt woes sapped momentum in the largest Nordic economy.
Consumer prices rose an annual 0.4 percent in September, the lowest reading since January 2010, Statistics Sweden said today. Inflation was estimated at 0.6 percent in a Bloomberg survey of 13 economists. Prices rose a monthly 0.4 percent. Adjusted for mortgage costs, they rose an annual 0.9 percent and 0.7 percent in the month.
“The strong krona has kept a lid on import prices, while the weak economy has produced only moderate wage increases,” said Olle Holmgren, an analyst at SEB AB in Stockholm. “Headline inflation will probably even be negative for a few months at the beginning of next year as the central bank will cut rates at least once more.”
Sweden’s central bank last month predicted no more cuts after reducing its main lending rate for a third time since December to 1.25 percent to boost flagging growth. The krona has strengthened 5.5 percent against the euro over the past year, pushing import prices lower, as investors buy Swedish assets as a haven from the European debt crisis.
The krona fell 0.3 percent against the euro to 8.6540 and traded 0.3 percent lower at 6.7208 per dollar as of 10:22 a.m. in the Swedish capital.
The central bank, which targets an inflation rate of 2 percent, last month predicted economic growth will slow to 1.5 percent this year from 3.9 percent in 2011, while inflation will average 1.2 percent this year, compared with 3 percent in 2011. Sweden sells about half of its output abroad, of which about 70 percent go to Europe where countries are cutting spending to reduce debt.
Orders for Swedish industrial goods contracted for an eleventh month in August, on an annual basis, sending manufacturing confidence to its lowest level in seven months in September. A report today showed registered unemployment rose to
“Many companies, above all in the manufacturing sector, now believe that prices will be lower in the period immediately ahead,” the Riksbank said in a survey of companies published this month. “Price competition has increased and this is squeezing the companies’ margins and profitability.”