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Stats reveal 'surprisingly strong' Swedish economy

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Stats reveal 'surprisingly strong' Swedish economy
12:43 CET+01:00
Sweden's economy grew by 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year earlier, surprising analysts who had flagged for a possible recession.

Swedish economic growth plunged to just 0.8 percent overall last year, but was unchanged in the three months ending December compared with the previous quarter.

The result beat expectations of a 0.8 percent contraction foreseen by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

"GDP figures were surprisingly strong," Per Selldén, a macro-economist with Swedbank, told the TT news agency.

"Domestic demand was clearly stronger than we'd expected. Household consumption as well as investment was surprising, even public spending."

Still, the Nordic country's export-driven economy wasn't immune to the slowdown in the eurozone, growing 0.8 percent in 2012, down from 3.7 percent in the previous year, Statistics Sweden said.

Household consumption grew 1.5 percent in the year while exports gained 0.7 percent.

Finance Minister Anders Borg greeted the GDP figures with caution.

"It's good that things are stabilizing," Borg told TT.

"But we have to be aware that there are still clear downward political risks for the economy and they can come back and rattle things."

He added that economic growth around 1 percent is by no means a sign of a strong recovery.

"As long as growth is this slow, we have to be ready for unemployment to rise and employment to remain weak. Naturally, that's difficult, so the danger is far from over for the Swedish economy," he said.

In December, the government cut a September growth projection for 2012 to 0.9 percent from 1.6 percent.

Third quarter growth in 2012 was on Friday revised downwards by 0.2 percentage points to 0.3 percent, the statistics agency said.

Exports account for 47 percent of Sweden's economy.

This year, the Swedish government expects the economy to grow by 1.1 percent, which is slightly higher than the central bank's expectations of a 0.9 percent expansion.

AFP/TT/The Local/dl

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