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SEB

SEB in record year

Swedish bank SEB experienced a record year in 2006, with operating profits increasing by 39 percent to 15.5 billion kronor. Fourth quarter operating profits were 4.1 billion kronor, up 21 percent.

The bank’s operating income rose 13 percent to 38.7 billion kronor. Costs rose 2 percent to 22.5 billion. Announcing the results, the board proposed a dividend of 6 kronor per share, up from 4.75 kronor last year.

The result is the best ever achieved by the bank, and beat analysts’ expectations.

“The efforts to improve productivity and establish a more competitive long-term cost-base are gradually yielding result,” said the bank’s president, Annika Falkenberg.

The Wallenberg family’s holding company Investor is a major shareholder in SEB, one of the largest banks in the Nordic region.

ECONOMY

Swedish economy beats growth expectations

Sweden's economy grew by 0.6 percent in the first quarter from the previous three-month period, Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån - SCB) said on Wednesday as it released fresh data that beat expectations.

Swedish economy beats growth expectations

“Sweden’s position in Europe remains strong,” Statistics Sweden said, noting Sweden had experienced growth that was “significantly higher than the European average.”

The growth, the strongest recorded in Sweden since the second quarter last year, is significantly higher than analysts’ forecasts.

They had predicted the economy would see weak growth, be flat or even contract, with a survey by Dow Jones Newswires forecasting an average increase of 0.3 percent.

Sweden’s first quarter economic health contrasts sharply with that of countries in the eurozone, of which it is not a member.

Many eurozone countries have registered weak quarterly data, such as Germany which reported 0.1 percent growth, or were in recession, such as France which saw its economy shrink by 0.2 percent.

Sweden’s “upside surprise is mainly due to stronger inventories” while “domestic demand (was) mixed,” SEB bank analyst Erica Blomgren commented on Twitter.

She said “private and public consumption (were) stronger than expected but investments (were) very weak.”

AFP/The Local/at

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