* Jan retail sales excl. sales motor vehicles +1.0 pct m/m
* Expectations had been for +0.5 pct (Adds quotes by analyst, detail, background)
OSLO Feb 28 Norwegian retail sales rose faster than expected in January after several weak months, strengthening the crown and providing early signs the economy may be moving past it recent rough patch.
Seasonally adjusted retail sales excluding motor vehicles rose by 1.0 percent from the previous month, beating all estimates in a Reuters poll in which the median expectation was for a 0.5 percent rise, data from Statistics Norway showed on Thursday.
The crown firmed to 7.4811 against the euro from 7.4894.
Analysts, however, did not expect the data to alter the central bank's rate outlook as retail figures can be volatile and the bank would need more data to conclude the economy was gaining strength.
"This was better than expected, so it looks like a good start for consumption this year, after a period of many weak months," said Kjersti Haugland, a senior economist at DNB Markets.
She did not expect the Norwegian central bank to change its view on this number alone.
"We assume that the central bank has lowered the consumption estimate in its new report due in March. We still expect the first (rate) hike in December 2014," she said.
Norges Bank said in December it saw a rate hike between March and September to cool an oil-fuelled boom in the economy. But growth has since proved slower than the bank's projections from October.
Norway's economy grew by 3.5 percent last year, even as the euro zone contracted, but quarterly growth slowed to just 0.3 percent in the last three months of the year.
The central bank next rate decision is on March 14. (Reporting by Victoria Klesty. Writing by Gwladys Fouche. Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)