Swedish Services Industry Returned to Expansion in January

Sweden’s services industry expanded for the first time in three months in January, signalling the largest Nordic economy is weathering Europe’s debt crisis, a survey by Swedbank AB indicated.

An index based on responses from about 200 purchasing managers rose more than predicted to a seasonally adjusted 52.4 in January from 49.1 the previous month, Stockholm-based Swedbank, which compiles the index, said today. A reading above 50 signals an expansion. The median estimate of three economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a reading of 51.2 percent.

The gain “confirms the picture that the year has started on a positive note compared with the end of last year,” said Per Sellden, an analyst at Swedbank AB, in a note.

Sweden’s central bank, which will announce its next interest rate decision next week, in December eased its benchmark for a fourth time in a year, bringing it to 1 percent, to support growth and cap rising unemployment. The government is also stimulating the economy with increased spending and a cut in corporate tax rates.

The economy will by grow 1.1 percent in 2013 and 3 percent in 2014, the government forecast on Dec. 21.

The business volumes sub-index rose to 55.7 from 49, the order index increased to 53.9 from 48.9 and the employment index fell to 48.2 from 48.4. The delivery time index decreased to 50 from 50.2.

A report from the statistics agency today also showed services production rose 0.7 percent in December, compared with a revised 0.7 percent the previous month.