* Key policy rate on hold at 0%, as expected
* Says economy in the midst of deep downturn
* Developments in line with central bank’s expectation
* Currency weakens slightly vs euro (Adds analyst, currency, background)
OSLO, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Norway’s central bank kept its key policy interest rate on hold at a record low zero percent on Thursday, as expected, and said it would maintain its accommodating policy until the economy shows clear signs of revival from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Norwegian economy is in the midst of a deep downturn,” Norges Bank’s monetary policy committee said in a statement, while adding that the overall development had been as expected since its previous announcement in September.
“The sharp economic downturn and considerable uncertainty surrounding the outlook suggest keeping the policy rate on hold until there are clear signs that economic conditions are normalising,” Norges Bank said.
Economists polled by Reuters had unanimously predicted rates would remain on hold on Thursday.
The Norwegian crown traded slightly weaker at 10.90 against the euro at 0937 GMT.
Norges Bank cut the cost of borrowing three times between March and May to cushion the economy from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and predicted in September that rates would start to rise in late 2022.
The central bank will next update its future rate path in December, when it is due to release its quarterly monetary policy report containing detailed forecasts for the economy and interest rates.
Most economists polled by Reuters expected rates to begin rising in the first half of 2022 at the earliest.
The latest announcement struck a balance between a worsening outlook from renewed COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on the one hand, and a rise in housing prices driven by low rates on the other, DNB Chief Economist Kjersti Haugland said.
“On balance, it calls for a rate path which is somewhere close to what they (Norges Bank) gave in September. In short, they are sticking to their previous plan to keep the policy rate unchanged for a longer period,” she said. (Editing by Terje Solsvik and Angus MacSwan)
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