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Swedish Retail Sales Growth Slows in March as Unemployment Rises

April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Swedish retail sales growth slowed last month as shoppers reduced spending amid rising unemployment in the biggest Nordic economy.

Sales growth slowed to an annual 1.8 percent in March from a revised 3.4 percent the previous month, Stockholm-based Statistics Sweden said today. Sales were estimated to grow 2.3 percent, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Monthly retail sales fell 0.4 percent.

Swedish companies are cutting jobs to cope with weak demand from abroad. The central bank this month pushed back plans for its first interest rate increase to late 2014 as rising unemployment damps inflation by making it harder for companies to pass on cost increases to consumers.

The Riksbank cut its repo rate four times since December 2011 to 1 percent before keeping rates unchanged in two consecutive meetings in an attempt to revive flagging economic growth without stoking an asset-price bubble. The export-reliant Nordic country suffers from weak European demand as countries cut spending to reduce debt. Sweden exports about half of its output, and about 70 percent of sales take place in Europe.

Unemployment in the $500 billion economy unexpectedly rose to 8.8 percent in March after companies including Ericsson AB, the world’s largest maker of mobile networks, cut jobs. It will rise to an average 8.2 percent this year from 8 percent in 2012 after economic growth slowed to 0.8 percent last year from 3.7 percent in 2011, the Riksbank said on April 17.

To contact the reporter on this story: Johan Carlstrom in Stockholm at jcarlstrom@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonas Bergman in Oslo at jbergman@bloomberg.net

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