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Norway Manufacturing Unexpectedly Shrinks as Europe Slump Weighs

Norway’s manufacturing industry contracted the most since June last month as orders slumped amid a recession in Europe.

An index based on responses from purchasing managers fell to a seasonally adjusted 48.3 in February from a revised 50.1 the previous month, Danske Bank A/S said today. The index was seen at 50.9, according to the average estimate of seven economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The reading was the lowest since the 46.3 figure in June 2012. A figure below 50 signals a contraction.

Europe’s crisis has started to hurt the economy of the world’s fourth-richest nation per capita. Exports have dropped amid slowing demand from Europe where austerity measures in nations such as Spain have trigged a recession. Unemployment unexpectedly rose to 3.6 percent in the December quarter from 3.5 percent, Statistics Norway data showed this week.

The PMI sub-index measuring orders slumped to 45.9 from 50.7 in January. The employment index fell to 50.5 from 50.9 and the production measure dropped to 47.1 from 49.8. The inventory index rose to 47.4 from 43.6.

Norway’s central bank held its benchmark rate unchanged at 1.5 percent in December and stuck to a plan to raise rates this month at the earliest to damp a rally in the housing market.

The krone slid 0.3 percent to 7.5142 per euro as of 09:15 a.m. in Oslo.

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