January 22, 2018 / 12:28 PM / a year ago

Finnish GDP growth will accelerate in 2018, bank predicts

HELSINKI, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Finland’s economy is expected to grow more this year than last, according to a forecast that the country’s largest bank, OP Group, released on Monday.

Finnish gross domestic product is expected to grow 3.3 percent this year, up from an estimated 3.2 percent in 2017, OP Group said.

Although the Finnish economy is recovering quickly from a decade of stagnation, banks and the government have so far forecast the growth spurt would subside this year.

But a broad expansion in the euro zone, the Finnish government’s labour market reforms and recovering investments in the country’s pulp and paper industry have helped the growth to accelerate, OP said.

“Improved competitiveness, strong demand and corporate investments are supporting exports. Capital spending is also seen progressing healthily as corporate profitability improves and financing is inexpensive,” OP said in a statement.

For 2019, the bank forecast GDP growth of 2.3 percent.

“Even though the growth is decelerating next year, this does not mean that we will have reached the peak of the cycle. Growth is faster than its anticipated long-term average and the unemployment rate will continue to fall,” the bank said.

The euro zone’s northernmost economy was dubbed by its former finance minister Alexander Stubb as “the sick man of Europe” in 2015. That followed a string of shocks, such as a decline of Nokia’s former phone business and recession in neighbouring Russia.

The latest forecasts for Finland’s GDP growth vary from 2.3 to 3.3 percent for 2018 and from 1.6 to 2.4 percent for 2019. (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl, editing by Larry King)

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