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Nordic Countries

Hopes for increases in prices and demand are not substantiated by any concrete data, although sentiment appears more relaxed than in previous months. People seem to be adapting to the new normal of reduced material availability; at the same time, there has been a glimmer of optimism as slightly more material has been entering yards, albeit from low levels.

There has been a surge in prices for copper-based materials as many buyers are competing for the same tonnages. Moreover, there has been a noticeable influx of new buyers who were previously uninterested in scrap materials, thereby indicating that we might be entering a seller’s market.

Despite Finland’s economy still being in recession, there are optimistic signs pointing towards an upswing in 2024. This turnaround is expected to be fuelled by factors such as private consumption, declining inflation/interest rates and a gradual improvement in export demand. Although certain sectors may experience workforce reductions, labour market conditions are expected to remain relatively stable overall. Nevertheless, labour shortages are persisting, leading to expectations of wage increases surpassing recent trends. Meanwhile, the housing construction sector is experiencing a notable deceleration, with a full recovery not anticipated until 2025.

Despite economic stagnation, Denmark has shown a resilience largely attributable to the remarkable performance of pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk. The manufacturing boom attributed to this company alone lifted GDP growth by almost two percentage points last year, offsetting contractions in other sectors such as industry and housing construction. Despite the current stagnation, there are optimistic projections for a gradual return to more diversified growth throughout 2024 and 2025. Factors such as interest rate cuts and increasing private consumption are expected to facilitate this transition.

Strong exports are a key driver of the Swedish economy, compensating for slightly weaker domestic demand. Despite concerns about purchasing power erosion, consumption remains stable, supported by robust employment. Unemployment is on the rise but this trend does not fully reflect the strength of Sweden’s labour market. Already impacted by material costs, the construction sector is now facing challenges from high interest rates.

Excluding housing costs, inflation has undergone a significant decrease in recent months, settling below the 2% mark and now expected to reach the Riksbank’s target level during the summer.

Norway faces challenges as both economic growth and inflation are showing signs of deceleration. Oil services have emerged as a standout performer amid the broader economic challenges. Negative real wage growth and higher mortgage rates are proving to be significant obstacles for households, particularly affecting private consumption and housing investment. Although the unemployment rate remains relatively low, there are indications that employment may be softening, posing potential challenges for the labour market. Norges Bank is expected to maintain the policy rate in March and May but to initiate a rate cut at its June meeting. The Norwegian krone remains exposed to global factors, with limited prospects for a strong cyclical recovery.