New signs of life in the Norwegian economy

Positive signals in Finance Norway’s quarterly expectations survey are being interpreted as yet another sign that the Norwegian economy is over the hump.

New signs of life in the Norwegian economy
Finance Norway CEO Idar Kreuetzer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix
Consumers think the Norway’s economic woes have bottomed out and that a brighter future is ahead, the quarterly survey revealed. 
However, Norwegians have shaken off their gloomiest financial outlook in decades just yet. 
For the fifth consecutive quarter, the main indicator in Finance Norway barometer was negative, showing a persistent pessimism on consumers’ personal finances and the broader Norwegian economy. 
But outlooks have brightened a bit since last quarter, Finance Norway CEO Idar Kreutzer said.
“The results of the expectation barometer is an early indication of a shift in attitudes,” he said.
The figures suggest that optimism is growing amongst Norwegians, according to DNB Markets analyst Camilla Viland.
“Households in particular have become less pessimistic on their outlook for the Norwegian economy. This may be because oil prices have risen and the Norwegian economy has put the worst behind it. In addition, unemployment has stabilized,” she wrote on Tuesday.
Both Nordea Markets and DNB Markets find it unlikely that Norges Bank will cut interest rates further in September, as the central bank suggested it would do before the summer, given the more positive figures for the national economy.
Nordea Markets notes that Finance Norway's indicator does not necessarily give a good reflection of future consumption but still predicted that Norges Bank will take note of the new barometer and “relax even more.”
Finance Norway and TNS Gallup have measured Norwegians’s economic expectations and outlook since 1992. The Expectation Survey is a quarterly barometer based on about 1,000 telephone interviews in which a representative sample of the population is asked about expectations concerning personal finances and the country's economy.
A score of -4.1 in the third quarter of this year is the most encouraging since the second quarter of last year.
“We see a predominance of positive responses in most age groups in the various regions and across different income groups. Even in our worst-affected regions, Southern and Western Norway, we have noted a sharp increase in [consumers’] faith in the future,” Kreutzer said. 
Developments in unemployment also give grounds for cautious optimism, according to Finance Norway. In recent months there has been a decline in the total number of unemployed workers. Although the unemployment rate is now at 3.6 percent, up from 3.4 percent in July 2015, it is better than analysts expected.

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‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers.