March 28, 2018 / 7:36 AM / in a month

Norway retail sales fall for third straight month, crown weakens

OSLO, March 28 (Reuters) - Norwegian retail sales fell on Wednesday for the third month in a row and were lower than expected, weakening the crown currency.

Retail sales fell 0.6 percent in February from January, against expectations for a rise of 0.7 percent, compared with a revised fall of 0.3 percent in the previous month.

The Norwegian crown weakened to 9.6160 against the euro, from 9.5852 just before the release. It then regained some of its losses and was trading at 9.6035 at 0718 GMT.

Norges Bank forecasts consumption growth of 2.6 percent this year and brokerage DNB Markets expected this would need to be revised down after today’s figures.

“Today’s figure could indicate a weaker start of 2018 for private consumption than expected,” brokerage Nordea Markets said.

Still, retail sales is a volatile number and economists do not expect Norges Bank will revise the timing of its first rate hike after Wednesday’s figures.

The Norwegian deposit rate is at a record-low of 0.50 percent. The central bank has said a rate rise could come at the earliest in August or September.

“We do not believe the figures are weak enough to change the forecast for the first interest rate hike and continue to expect Norges Bank to hike rates in September,” brokerage DNB Markets said in a note to clients. (Reporting by Camilla Knudsen, editing by Gwladys Fouche)

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