Swedish ends five years of negative rates with hike to zero

STOCKHOLM, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Sweden’s central bank hiked its benchmark repo rate by a quarter point to 0.0% as expected on Thursday, defying a slowdown in the economy and global uncertainty to draw a line under five years with negative interest rates.

“Developments since the monetary policy meeting in October have on the whole been as the Riksbank expected,” the central bank said in a statement.

“The Executive Board has therefore decided to raise the repo rate from –0.25 percent to zero percent, in line with the forecast from October.”

The Riksbank was not the first to drop below zero when it cut to -0.10% in 2015, but it is the first to get rates into more normal territory. Rates are negative in the euro zone, Japan, Denmark, Switzerland and Hungary.

Reporting by Stockholm newsroom; editing by Niklas Pollard