Norway Unemployment Rate Unexpectedly Rises for a Third Month

Norway’s jobless rate unexpectedly rose for a third month in the December quarter as a recession in the euro area and a strong currency weigh on exports.

Unemployment climbed to 3.6 percent from 3.5 percent in the previous period, Oslo-based Statistics Norway said today. The figure exceeded the 3.4 percent average forecast of seven economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

A recession in Europe, Norway’s biggest trading partner, has started to hurt exports, which fell an annual 8.6 percent in January, according to Statistics Norway. Growth in the mainland economy, which excludes oil, gas and shipping, is estimated to slow to 3 percent in 2013 from 3.75 percent last year, according to central bank forecasts.

Policy makers held the central bank’s benchmark rate unchanged at 1.5 percent in December while sticking to a plan to raise rates as early as next month.

Norway’s petroleum wealth has so far shielded western Europe’s largest oil exporter from the fallout of the euro area debt crisis. Record investments in the oil and gas industry have fuelled demand for labor, pushing up wages.

The krone slid 0.3 percent to 7.4725 per euro as of 10:19 a.m. in Oslo.

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