Sweden Retail Sales Unexpectedly Rise After Interest Rate Cut

Swedish retail sales unexpectedly rose last month after the central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to support slowing economic growth.

Sales rose 0.1 percent in January, compared with a revised 0.7 percent gain the previous month, Stockholm-based Statistics Sweden said today. The median estimate in a survey of five economists by Bloomberg was for unchanged sales. Annual retail sales rose 1.9 percent.

The Swedish central bank on Dec. 18 cut its main interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point for a fourth time in a year to 1 percent to revive growth as the country suffers from slowing demand for its exports. Sweden sends about 70 percent of its exports to Europe where countries are cutting spending to reduce debt.

Swedish consumer confidence improved for a second month in February from an almost four-year low amid optimism Europe’s leaders will contain the region’s debt crisis. Growth in the $500 billion economy will pick up to 1.4 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2014, compared with 0.7 percent in 2012, the debt office predicted earlier this month.

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