Norway retail, jobless data weaken rate cut prospects

Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:48am EDT

* Retail sales rise 1.8 pct vs 0.4 pct forecast

* Registered unemployed steady at 2.5 pct

OSLO, June 28 (Reuters) - Norway's retail and jobless data were better than expected on Friday, reducing prospects that the central bank will cut interest rates at its next meeting in September.

Retail sales surged 1.8 percent on the month in May, well above a 0.4 percent rise viewed beforehand, while the number of unemployed held steady instead of rising, data from Statistics Norway showed.

"This erases the fear that there is a marked slowdown (in consumption)," SEB chief economist Stein Bruun said. "All in all, the data imply there will not be a rate cut in September."

Norway's central bank last week said there was a 50 percent chance of a rate cut in September as the economy is slowing more than expected, with traditional industries feeling the pain of Europe's prolonged economic plight.

The bank also said it would delay a rate hike planned for the spring of next year until the end of 2014.

Most analysts believe the bank is more likely to keep rates steady for the next year and a half, not wanting to stoke a red hot housing market with cheaper borrowing.

Unemployment, a worry over the past several months after unexpected increases, is also looking less of an issue. The registered jobless rate held steady at 2.5 percent with the number of jobless steady around 86,000.

"It is quite clear now that there is no dramatic worsening of the labour market," Nordea chief analyst Erik Bruce said. "In sum, these data point to no rate cut." (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi, Editing by Gwladys Fouche/Jeremy Gaunt)