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Figures from the balance of payments show a NOK 3.1 billion deficit in the interest and transfers balance in the first quarter, and a current account surplus of NOK 7 billion, NOK 14.3 billion lower than in first quarter 1997.
Norway's external trade in goods and services produced a surplus of NOK 10.1 billion in first quarter 1998. In volume the export surplus was nearly cut in half compared to the first quarter of last year. Adjusted for normal seasonal variations, the surplus was also down compared to fourth quarter 1997.
Exports of goods and services increased by 5.4 per cent in volume from first quarter 1997 to first quarter 1998. In terms of current value, exports dropped by 0.5 per cent in the wake of the 20.5 per cent reduction in oil and gas prices. Exports of oil and gas grew 1.3 per cent in terms of volume, while exports of traditional goods increased by 13.6 per cent. Exports of services grew 4.1 per cent in volume, thanks mainly to exports of transport, financial and business services.
Imports of goods and services increased by all of 14.9 per cent in volume in first quarter 1998 compared to the same quarter the year before. Traditional goods increased by 19.4 per cent. Imports of services also increased sharply, with a volume growth of 12.2 per cent. Financial and business services grew the most.
Corrected for normal seasonal variations, total exports increased by 1.1 per cent from fourth quarter 1997 to first quarter 1998, while imports rose 3.6 per cent.
Growth in investment
From first quarter last year to first quarter this year gross fixed investment increased by 9.8 per cent in volume. The sharpest growth was in oil operations, with an increase of 24.7 per cent. Manufacturing and mining also saw sharp growth in investments. The growth was, however, weaker in service industries outside the housing industry as the result of the winding down of large transport projects.
Higher consumption in first quarter
Consumption of households and non-profit organizations increased by 3.8 per cent in volume from first quarter 1997 to first quarter 1998. Consumption of goods increased 4.8 per cent, while the consumption of services increased by 2.5 per cent. Seasonally adjusted consumption shows a decline of 0.3 per cent from fourth quarter last year to first quarter this year. Consumption of goods was 1 per cent lower compared to fourth quarter last year, while consumption of services was 0.4 per cent higher after adjusting for normal seasonal fluctuations. Government consumption was up 2.4 per cent in first quarter 1998 compared to the same quarter last year. From fourth quarter 1997 the seasonally adjusted figures show government consumption grew by 0.4 per cent.
The gross domestic product increased by 4.3 per cent from first quarter 1997 to first quarter 1998. Seasonally adjusted, however, the GDP declined 0.5 per cent from fourth quarter 1997 to first quarter 1998.
Weekly Bulletin issue no. 24, 1998