Sweden’s visible unemployment remains high

Visible unemployment remained high at 5.5% in January but Hans Karlsson, minister for employment, is optimistic, saying that there are signs of a turnaround on the labour market as the number of redundancies is falling and vacancies are on the increase.

Riksbank under pressure to cut interest rates

Lower prices for clothes, shoes, home electronics and holidays resulted in an inflation rate of 0.0% in January, according to the Consumer Price Index. The UND1X, a measure of underlying inflation, was 0.4%. Both indices were lower than analysts had forecast and lower than the Riksbank had forecast in its latest inflation report.

The central bank is now under pressure to cut the repo rate or explain why it does not intend to do so.

Venture capitalists invest billions

Swedish venture capitalists invested some 17 billion kronor in 2004, mainly within the biotech, IT/software and medtech sectors.

Fazer bids for Cloetta

Fazer has unexpectedly made a hostile bid for all the shares in Cloetta Fazer. Swedish majority shareholder Malfors Promotor says the bid is too low and is considering placing a bid itself.

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.