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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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ECONOMY

Swedish economy to grind to a halt as interest rates kick in

Sweden faces an economic slump next year that will see economic growth grind to a complete stop, Sweden's official government economics forecaster, has warned.

Swedish economy to grind to a halt as interest rates kick in

Sweden’s National Institute of Economic Research, which is tasked with tracking the business cycle for the Swedish government, warned in its quarterly forecast on Wednesday that greater than expected energy prices, interest rate rises, and stubborn inflation rates, Sweden was facing a significant downturn. 

The institute has shaved 1.6 percentage points off its forecast for growth in 2023, leaving the economy at a standstill, contracting -0.1 percent over the year. 

The institute now expects unemployment of 7.7 percent in 2023, up from a forecast of 7.5 percent given when in its last forecast in June.

“We can see that households are already starting to reign in their consumption,” said Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, the institute’s head of forecasting, saying this was happening “a little earlier than we had thought”. 

“We thought this would have happened when electricity bills went up, and interest rates went up a little more,” she continued. 

The bank expects household consumption to contract in 2023, something that she said was “quite unusual” and had not happened since Sweden’s 1990s economic crisis, apart from in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This was partly down to a five percent reduction in real salaries in Sweden in 2022, taking into account inflation, which the institute expects to be followed by a further two percent fall in real salaries in 2023. 

If the incoming Moderate-led government goes ahead with plans to reimburse consumers for high power prices, however, this would counterbalance the impact of inflation, leaving Swedish households’ purchasing power unchanged. 

The institute said it expected inflation to average 7.7 percent this year and 4.6 percent in 2023, both higher than it had forecast earlier.

Sweden’s Riksbank central bank this month hike its key interest rate by a full percentage point, after inflation hit 9 percent in August, the biggest single hike since the 1990s. 

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