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Economy in Brief

Business Confidence Improves in Norway and Sweden: a New High in Norway
by Louise Curley January 29, 2007

Expectations of business conditions in Norway and Sweden improved in the latest surveys. The data for manufacturing in Norway are expressed in the form of a diffusion index and are reported quarterly. The data for manufacturing in Sweden are expressed in terms of percent balances and are reported monthly.

Both the appraisals of current production and expectations for the next three months are especially strong in Norway. The index for current production reached a peak of 61.1 in the first quarter of 2006, declined in the second quarter to 59.9. but rose in the third quarter to 60.1 and again in the fourth quarter to 60.4. The previous peak in the last ten years was 60.4 in the third quarter of 1997. The index for expectations in the fourth quarter was 62.8 and is the highest value since the fourth quarter of 1997 when the index was 62.4. The first chart shows the diffusion indexes for current and expected production in Norway.

Sweden has expectations data for January figure but not current production data. Partly for this reason and also for comparability with Norway, we have aggregated the data for Sweden on a quarterly basis. The second chart shows the percent balances for current and expected production for Sweden on a quarterly basis. While the excess of optimists over pessimists regarding current production declined by 3 percentage points in the fourth quarter, the excess of optimists over pessimists regarding expectations increased by 5 percentage points. According to the January figure for expected production the excess of optimists over pessimists was 19%.

SURVEYS OF MANUFACTURING  4Q 06 3Q 06 4Q 05 Q/Q Dif Y/Y Dif 2006 2005 2004
Norway (Diffusion Index)
 Current Production 60.4 60.1 61.0 0.3 -0.6 60.4 58.8 56.9
  Expectations 3 Months Ahead 62.8 62.0 62.2 0.8 0.6 61.7 60.5 58.5
Sweden (Percent Balance)
 Current Production 26.0 29 19 -3 7 29 13 24
  Expectations 3 Months Ahead 22 17 26 5 -4 22 19 32
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