OSLO, March 3 Business conditions in Norway's
western oil-producing regions rose sharply in the first quarter,
hitting a three-year high as demand for goods and services
improved, a survey showed on Friday.
The price of crude oil, Norway's key export, fell sharply
from mid-2014 to early 2016 but has since staged a partial
recovery, while non-oil exporters are boosted by a weak crown
First compiled in 2012, the West Coast Current Conditions
Index rose by 3.4 points to 65.7 points, the highest level seen
since the first quarter of 2014, said polling institute Respons
Analyse and bank Sparebanken Vest.
The six-month outlook meanwhile rose 1.1 points to 60.5
points, the strongest since early 2015. And despite some idle
capacity, the outlook for investments hit a four-year high as
more and more companies seek to grow, the survey showed.
"After several quarters of rising demand, firms now signal
an increased desire to invest, which may in turn have a positive
impact on economic growth. The upturn is solidifying," it said.
Rising demand was particularly evident at medium-sized
exporters, the survey added, and the most significant
improvements came in the Rogaland county, home to many large
Norwegian oil firms, including top player Statoil.
The survey covered 700 firms based in the regions of
Rogaland, Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Moere og Romsdal.
Readings above 50 indicate expansion, while a reading below that
level signals contraction.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Nerijus Adomaitis)