Higher interest rates threaten Swedish jobs – AMS

The Swedish economy is on a roll, save for the labour market which has yet to come out of its slack, according to the latest forecasts from the National Labour Market Board, AMS. A decision by the Riksbank to hike the interest rate would jeopardise the already slow turnaround in the labour market, said AMS chief economist Sandro Scocco.

AMS sees unemployment at 5.5% this year and at 5.1% in 2005. GDP is seen up 3.6% this year, up 3.7 pct in 2005 while inflation is forecast at 1.0% 2004, 1.2% 2005.

Some 25,000 new jobs are expected next year, although close to half of these will be temporary, substitute jobs expected to arise when employees avail of the government’s sabbatical year programme. This means no real jobs are created even if AMS remains upbeat about future growth.

Advertising market on the rebound

The Swedish advertising market is expected to grow by 4.5% next year, according to the Institute for Advertising and Media Statistics, IRM, in its latest forecasts for 2004 and 2005.

LG overtakes Sony Ericsson

Sony Ericsson is no longer the world’s fifth largest handset maker – South Korean rival LG has overtaken the Japanese-Swedish mobile phone producer. Nokia remained uncontested as number one handset maker, with more than 30 per cent of the market.

Ikea finally in black in China on price cuts

After five years in the red, Ikea finally moved into black figures in China following sharp price cuts that made Ikea products more attractive to Chinese buyers.

Ica to downsize to save a billion crowns

Supermarket chain ICA plans to save one billion crowns by downsizing. The cost-cutting scheme will put at least 500 ICA employees out of jobs.

Scania bid for Ainax in the bag

Shareholders together owning more than 50% of Ainax are set to accept Scania’s bid. This became evident after Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundations yesterday disclosed their 21% stake in Ainax following share purchases amounting to roughly 1.4 billion crowns.

Investor owns at least 16.3% in Ainax. Together with AMF and other Ainax owners, Scania then has the backing of shareholders representing more than half of the Ainax shares – which is needed to carry out the bid.

Östros against privatising SAS

SAS will remain state-owned, Swedish Industry and Trade Minister Thomas Östros was quoted as saying by the Financial Times. Despite multibillion losses the government has no plans to privatise the airline. On the contrary, it is ready to raise its stake in SAS, said Östros.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri


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Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.