Interest rate outlook stable

Several Norwegian financial institutions have lowered their projections for interest rates in 2001.

Previously, most of them had projected rate hikes to dampen the inflationary effect of rising personal consumption and an expected jump in state spending. But recent indicators suggest that consumers have been relatively thrifty in recent months. In addition, the 2001 budget agreement achieved by the ruling Labour Party holds the line on total state spending. The chief economist at Gjensidige NOR, Terje Furunes, said most of his colleagues had expected the government to dip more deeply into the country's oil proceeds to finance expanded state programs. "We are positively surprised," he said.