Norway Retail Sales Decline as Registered Unemployment Rises

Norwegian retail sales fell for a second month in July and a report showed registered unemployment rose this month, adding to evidence the economy of western Europe’s largest oil exporter is slowing.

Retail sales, excluding motor vehicles, slumped 1.3 percent in the month, after falling 0.2 percent in June, Oslo-based Statistics Norway said today. Sales were estimated to rise 0.2 percent, according to a Bloomberg survey of eight economists.

A report today also showed that registered unemployment was unchanged at 2.8 percent in August, compared with 2.6 percent a year earlier, according to the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Service. Unemployment was seen at 2.7 percent, according to the median estimate of 11 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rose to 70,210 from 69,284 people in July, the agency said. A report from the statistics agency showed surveyed unemployment fell to 3.3 percent in June.

While the weak data adds “to the list of arguments for a near-term rate cut” Norges Bank will probably hold it’s rate unchanged based on last month’s higher-than-estimated inflation figures and the weakening of the krone, Erlend Loedemel, chief economist at Arctic Securities ASA, said in a note.

The krone weakened 0.3 percent to 8.0878 per euro as of 11:50 a.m. in Oslo.

Policy makers held their benchmark deposit rate unchanged at 1.5 percent in June, signaling a possible rate cut in September to support growth and prevent inflation from slowing further. Data has since revealed higher-than-estimated industrial production and inflation, cooling speculation of a rate cut next month.

Norges Bank will publish its next rate decision Sept. 19.

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