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Norway Holds Key Rate Despite Economy Fears

OSLO, Norway (AP) â¿¿ Norway's central bank kept its key interest rate at 1.5 percent even though it warned of an economic slowdown.

Though the decision was widely anticipated, the bank indicated that it may cut again later this year. Norges Bank Governor Oeystein Olsen said Thursday that the possibility of a rate cut this year had increased recently.

"There is a 50-percent chance of a rate cut in September," Olsen said. "In March, the likelihood was 40 percent."

Norway's key rate has remained at 1.5 percent since March 2012.

Speaking after the bank's announcement, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the country's economy was being buffeted by the ongoing recession across large parts of Europe.

He said there were no guarantees Norway would continue to perform as well as it has done recently and noted rising unemployment and lower industrial investments and exports to other European countries.

"I strongly recommend that we continue to promote stability and predictability in the economy," Stoltenberg told reporters in Oslo. "We will continue with responsible spending which will secure jobs."

Stoltenberg's comments came as world stock markets fell sharply after the U.S. Federal Reserve hinted it might scale back a stimulus program later this year.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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