Swedish retail sales unexpectedly rose for a sixth month in March as lower interest rates and falling unemployment fueled consumer confidence.
Sales rose a monthly 0.2 percent and climbed an annual 4.5 percent, compared with 3.5 percent the previous month, Stockholm-based Statistics Sweden said today. The median estimate in a survey of six economists by Bloomberg was for a monthly drop of 0.3 percent and an annual gain of 3.4 percent.
“Retail sales in March were yet another recent strong piece of data for the Swedish economy,” said Andreas Jonsson, an economist at Nordea Bank AB (NDA), in a note. “In sum, the most recent data clearly decreases the likelihood of a rate cut from the Riksbank in July.”
Swedish consumer confidence improved to a nine-month high in April, the National Institute of Economic Research said yesterday. Sweden’s non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 7.7 percent in March after the country’s central bank cut interest rates twice since December. The bank this month kept its main rate unchanged at 1.5 percent and predicted no more cuts as growth improves.
There are a few indication of “cautious optimism” in the Swedish economy even as uncertainty remains in southern and central Europe, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told reporters yesterday. About half of Swedish output is sold abroad, of which 70 percent is bound for Europe.
A separate report today showed the country’s trade surplus narrowed to 4.8 billion kronor in March from 8.1 billion kronor a year earlier. Exports declined an annual 7 percent, the statistics agency said.
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