World Economy

Norway Economy Bottoms Out, Krone to Grow Stronger

Norway is also selling more oil than it was a year agoNorway is also selling more oil than it was a year ago

Norway’s biggest bank thinks the Norwegian economy has bottomed out for now, predicting some new growth ahead, less reliance on oil prices and a strengthening currency. Oil prices have been rising too, and that is economically beneficial for an oil-producing nation like Norway.

DNB Markets, which issued its half-year report on economic prospects for Norway and the rest of the world on Wednesday, thinks the krone will keep getting stronger. “The krone has been weaker than what the outlook for the Norwegian economy suggests,” said Magne Ostnor, currency analyst at DNB Markets, Yahoo Finance reported.

By this time next year, DNB Markets thinks a US dollar will cost NOK 7.57, down from NOK 8.22 on Wednesday. A euro will cost NOK 8.70, predicts DNB, while the already-weaker British pound will cost just NOK 9.67, down from NOK 10.69 on Wednesday and way down from recent levels over NOK 13.

“We have long had visions of a stronger krone,” Ostnor said. A sudden strengthening over the past week has sent Norwegians streaming over the border to go shopping in Sweden, where prices are cheaper and the Swedish krone is weaker against Norway’s currency than it has been for months.

  Korne Strengthening

Now DNB Markets is predicting a “considerable” strengthening of the krone in the months ahead. “The bricks are falling into place for the krone,” Ostnor said. It has traditionally risen along with rising oil prices, which are up 15% over the past two weeks. Norway is also selling more oil than it was a year ago, according to state statistics bureau Statistics Norway, or SSB.

New figures from SSB show that exports of Norway’s North Sea crude oil rose by 6.7 million barrels last month, compared to July 2015. That’s an increase of 17.6%, while a lower oil price last month meant that the value of the exports was down 1.8%.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported Wednesday that the OPEC cartel may resume talks on freezing oil production, which would send prices up higher. DNB Markets has already reported that it thinks oil prices will rise to around $55 a barrel during the fourth quarter of this year and to $70 a barrel by the end of next year.

There’s been a weaker decline in oil investments, for example, and an increase in real estate investment. It’s “nothing major,” noted Jeanette Strom Fjaere, a macroeconomist at DNB Markets, “but among the factors that contribute to a bit higher growth.” Hiring activity remains low and there’s been a decline in real pay growth, because of higher inflation, but the overall picture is better.