Metrics on Norway's economy pulled higher because of oil

Norway is one of Europe's lead oil and gas producers and its central bank warned the market was still dragging on inflation.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 11, 2017 at 6:29 AM
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Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Some of the metrics gauging the health of the Norwegian economy were pulled higher by higher prices for crude oil and related products, the government said.

Norway is one of the top oil and gas producing nations in the world. It designates nearly all of its offshore oil and gas production for exports to the European market, putting it behind Russia as a top regional supplier.

Statistics Norway, the country's record-keeping agency, said the producer price index from July to August improved by 0.4 percent, reversing a trend for the previous five months.

"Higher prices on crude oil, petroleum products and extraction services were the main contributors for the rise," the agency said in a statement.

The PPI for July was pulled down by lower natural gas prices and the agency said that trend was still weighing on the index for August. The index for services related to the extraction, part of the upstream sector, increased by 3.3 percent, the second month in a row for a gain. The consecutive PPI gain in the upstream sector was the first time for Norway since 2015.

PPI can serve as an indicator of inflation, which could be good for consumer spending and corporate profits if it's low and a signal an over-heated economy if it's too high.

In minutes published from its June meeting, the Norwegian Central Bank said in August the economy was underperforming.

"The executive board judges that there is a continued need for an expansionary monetary policy. Interest rates abroad are low," it said. "Capacity utilization in the Norwegian economy is still below a normal level, and the outlook suggests that inflation will range between 1 percent and 2 percent in the coming years."

Last month, Statistics Norway said prices for the oil and gas services sector had been moving lower for the last two years, dropping 20 percent between July 2016 and July 2017. Since 2014, oil prices have been low by historic standards and prices related to new services contracts are down as a result.

The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was trading near $53.75 per barrel early Monday, up about $6 per barrel from this time last year, but $42 per barrel lower than for 2014.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the nation's energy regulator, said preliminary figures for July show total average daily production of oil, natural gas liquids and condensate, an ultra-light form of oil, was 2 million barrels, an increase of 93,000 bpd from the previous month.

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