Skip to main content

Nordic Countries

The markets are still disappointingly quiet and slow, increasingly so because of recent colder weather and late snow. It seems we are just waiting for spring and hoping for better material demand and supply. Aluminium is maybe the biggest headache at present; for receiving yards, they face the difficulty of finding a buyer and, perhaps more importantly, a buyer prepared to pay the right price. Prices are varying from day to day and are not really at top levels.

Apart from worries over the uncertainty surrounding supply and demand going forward, defence and national security are also a concern for Finland and Sweden. When applying for NATO membership last year, the idea was that both countries would join as a package deal; however, now it might be that Finland joins before Sweden, therefore potentially making the latter more exposed to threats. It seems to come down to what the Hungarian and Turkish governments decide but may also be affected by the results of the Finnish Parliamentary elections on April 2.

Sweden and Finland are also facing similar economic problems, with a contraction of their economies at a time when growth has continued in Denmark and Norway. Denmark is seeing signs of higher consumer spending and less negative business sentiment. And even though food prices remain high, Denmark is seeing positive future trends in terms of lower freight rates as well as reduced food and energy prices, hoping this will provide a further boost to the economy. In Norway, growth was stronger than expected in the fourth quarter, driven both by private consumption and business investment. Most parts of the Norwegian economy see better activity ahead, except for construction.

In Finland, consumer and business confidence indicators are still weak, although early 2023 brought some rebound and additional investment will take place in domestic energy and national security. February saw an increase in Sweden’s core inflation, underlining this as a major challenge for the Riksbank.

High consumer spending in all of the Nordic Countries is rather puzzling given inflation and steep price increases for food.

To end on something of a positive note for aluminium, Gränges plans to invest SEK 600 million (approaching US$ 60 million) in doubling production capacity for battery cathode foil in order to meet increasing demand for battery components in Europe.