Low oil prices continued to weigh on economic growth in Norway in the first quarter, but recovery outside of the oil and gas sector picked up faster than expected.

Overall gross domestic product increased by 0.2 per cent in the first three months of the year, in line with economist forecasts. However, the “mainland” economy, which excludes oil and gas exploration and transport, grew by 0.6 per cent, up from 0.3 per cent in the previous quarter.

The figure was higher than the 0.5 per cent consensus estimate among analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, and well ahead of the central bank’s forecast of 0.43 per cent.

Analysts at Nordea predicted yesterday that the decent growth on the mainland will strengthen Norges Bank’s resolve to maintain its relatively high interest rates for the foreseeable future.

Norway suffered from the collapse in oil prices after 2015, and briefly entered recession last year – though the statistics office didn’t realise until after it had ended.

The oil and gas sector continued to struggle at the start of this year, returning to contraction after a pick-up in the fourth quarter.

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