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Swedish growth hits European big league

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12:03 CEST+02:00
Sweden has exceeded analysts' economic forecasts with quarterly growth up 1.4 percent and year-on-year figures placing the country at the top of the European pile.

"Seasonally adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.4 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2009," Statistics Sweden said.

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected the Swedish economy to grow 1.3 percent in the first three months of the year.

Sweden's GDP expanded three percent in the 12 months to March 2010, the statistics office said.

Swedish bank Handelsbanken said that "all-in-all, these figures show that Sweden stands out as a top performer in the EU family."

The country was hard-hit by the global economic crisis but its economy quickly bounced back, returning to growth in the second quarter of 2009, with a 0.7 increase in GDP.

The economy then expanded 0.3 percent in the third quarter and 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter last year, Statistics Sweden said in figures revised sharply upwards.

In March, it had said fourth quarter GDP slipped 0.6 percent compared to the July-September period.

No reason for the revisions was immediately given.

Although it suffered its worst contraction in 70 years in 2009, this year Sweden is expected to be among the strongest in Europe.

The government said in April it expected the economy to grow 2.5 percent in 2010, while the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) predicts a 1.6 percent gain.

For 2011, Sweden forecasts growth of 3.9 percent and the OECD 3.2 percent.

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