OSLO, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Business conditions have levelled out in Norway’s western oil-producing regions during the last three months, but companies are increasingly optimistic on the outlook for the coming quarters, a sentiment survey showed on Friday.
The price of crude oil, Norway’s key export, fell sharply from mid-2014 to early 2016 but has since staged a partial recovery, while non-oil exporters are boosted by a weak crown currency.
The West Coast Current Conditions Index fell by 0.5 points to 61.0 points, the first fall since the second quarter of 2016, the survey by Respons Analyse and Sparebanken Vest showed.
Expectations for the next six months rose to 65.9 points from 64.5, reaching the highest level since the second quarter of 2014.
“The increase in expectations is probably caused by the recent rise in oil prices and weakening of the Norwegian crown,” Sparebanken Vest said.
“We also see that this positive development in profitability is followed by higher investment expectations,” it added.
The business survey was first compiled in 2012 and includes 700 firms based in the regions of Rogaland, Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Moere og Romsdal. Readings above 50 indicate expansion, while a reading below that level signals contraction. (Reporting by Camilla Knudsen, editing by Terje Solsvik)