Norwegian Retail Sales Growth Stalls as Economic Expansion Slows

Norwegian retail sales stalled in March as a rally in the krone and a recession in Europe weighed on the labor market.

Retail sales, excluding motor vehicles and petrol stations, were unchanged in the month, after rising 0.5 percent in February, the Oslo-based statistics office said today. They fell an annual 4.2 percent. Sales were estimated to be unchanged in the month, according to a Bloomberg survey of seven economists.

Europe’s second-richest nation per capita is starting to feel the effect of Europe’s debt crisis and weaker growth prospects have been feeding through to the labor market. Still, a report today showed that the unemployment rate eased to 3.5 percent in February from 3.6 percent at the start of the year, which was the highest in more than two years.

The krone weakened 0.04 percent against the euro to 7.6176 by 10:06 a.m. in Oslo.

Policy makers held their benchmark deposit rate unchanged at 1.5 percent last month and signaled a possible rate cut as early as next month to limit krone gains and boost growth.

Output growth in the mainland economy, which excludes oil, gas and shipping, is estimated to slow to 2.75 percent in 2013 from 3.5 percent last year, according to central bank forecasts.

Norges Bank will publish its next rate decision on May 8.

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