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Nordic Countries

Flows of non-ferrous scrap into yards remain slow and the market is very quiet as well as a little messy; tenders are abruptly changed or cancelled while smelters seem to be having a difficult time planning their production, initially chasing after material before suddenly applying the brakes and stopping all deliveries. Production facilities from various market sectors appear to want to buy more scrap material but are often backing out before closing deals. There is also less optimism in the construction sector where activity levels will be challenged in the coming months.

Weak growth is predicted for the Swedish economy in 2023 - probably the weakest in the whole of the EU. Its PMI is at relatively low levels but the National Institute of Economic Research’s confidence indicator is close to its historical average. One reason for this could be that companies are still satisfied with their order books as exports are good and industrial production is still increasing.

The remarkably robust Danish economy has been driven by exports and capital spending but is expected to experience a mild recession in 2023. Exports posted growth of 8.6% in 2022 although the main driver changed over the course of the year: this was service exports at the start of 2022 - a reflection of Mærsk’s container freight windfall gain - but its contribution declined as container freight rates normalized and a new driver emerged in the shape of Novo Nordisk’s successful new obesity products.

Norway’s GDP gains have been better than expected but weaker growth is predicted as inflationary pressures remain high and broad-based. Norges Bank is not directly targeting the krone but higher imported inflation is one reason why the CPI-ATE (the consumer price index adjusted for tax changes and excluding energy products) remains well above target, preventing a rapid return to a more normal key interest rate.

Finland’s GDP keeps falling and is expected to end at -0.4% for the year. The new government will focus on containing budget deficits and improving fiscal discipline. Export-dependent Finnish industry has historically been slow to react to changes in global demand. Until now, this has benefitted trade as well as production levels, which have held up surprisingly well. Slowly resurgent demand will help to sustain this edge. In 2023, exports are expected to grow by 1%.