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ECONOMY

Swedish economy bounces back to growth

Sweden’s economy returned to growth in the second quarter, ending a year of contraction and indicating that the worst of the country’s recession may be over.

The economy grew by 0.2 percent in the second quarter from output in the first quarter, revised figures showed.

But on a 12-month basis, the economy shrank by 6.0 percent, Statistics Sweden, the country’s official data agency, said in a statement.

Sweden’s export-driven economy has been hit by weakening demand as consumers and companies cut back on spending amid the global financial turmoil and a lack of available credit.

Statistics Sweden said on July 31 that growth had been flat for the April-June period from the first quarter and down 6.2 percent on a 12-month basis.

The agency revised its second-quarter figures based on better-than-expected household spending and exports data.

It said household consumption fell by 1.8 percent year-on-year and exports were down 16.9 percent.

In July, it had said household spending dropped by 2.2 percent and exports by 18.0 percent.

Sweden’s central bank said on September 3 that “the signs of a turnaround in the economy have become increasingly clear” but warned that unemployment will continue to rise through to 2011.

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ECONOMY

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.

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