A survey of financial officers in Swedish companies shows that sentiment has picked up marginally since November 2011 but remains low, with many participants predicting redundancies.
The results show that although Sweden is outside the eurozone and partly insulated from the European debt crisis, it is still suffering in the global economic downturn.
Consultancy Deloitte and Swedish bank SEB, which combined two separate surveys to create a joint study, said the index of CFO expectations was 50.5 in February, compared with 49.2 in November.
More than a third of participants said they expect to reduce staff levels in Sweden while 20% plan to hire staff. However, the situation is reversed when it comes to overseas workers, with a third of participants looking to increase foreign recruitment and only 18% looking to reduce it.
The report authors said the strong Swedish krona is a challenge for many companies because it makes Swedish exports less competitive. Many participants said banks' willingness to lend was low by historical standards.
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