OSLO, June 7 (Reuters) - Business conditions strengthened significantly in Norway’s western oil-producing regions during the last three months, while the outlook rose to five-year highs, a sentiment survey showed on Thursday.
The price of crude oil, Norway’s key export, fell sharply from mid-2014 to early 2016 but has since recovered, while non-oil exporters are boosted by a weak currency.
The West Coast Current Conditions Index rose 3.7 points to a four-year high of 64.0 after a slight fall the previous quarter, the survey by Respons Analyse and Sparebanken Vest showed.
Readings above 50 indicate an expansion, while a reading below that level signals a contraction.
Expectations for the next six months rose further to 68.2 points from 67.1, reaching the highest level since the second quarter of 2013.
“Increased growth abroad along with rising oil prices and a weak Norwegian crown, contribute to more activity in the western region,” Sparebanken Vest said.
“The increase in demand means that more companies now report capacity challenges and we are probably close to full employment in the region,” it added.
The business survey was first compiled in 2012 and includes 700 firms based in the regions of Rogaland, Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Moere og Romsdal. (Reporting by Camilla Knudsen, editing by Terje Solsvik)