OSLO, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Companies based in Norway's western oil-producing regions have seen a fragile recovery in the third quarter and expect further improvements to take hold over the next six months, a business survey showed on Tuesday.
The price of crude oil, Norway's key export, fell sharply from mid-2014 to early 2016 but has since staged a partial recovery, while non-oil exporters are boosted by a persistently weak crown currency.
First compiled in 2012, the West Coast Current Conditions Index rose by 2.3 points to 58.7 points in the third quarter, while the six-month outlook rose 1.4 point to 62.0 points, said polling institute Respons Analyse and bank Sparebanken Vest.
Both indexes were at their highest level since the second quarter of 2015 but were still well below highs seen between 2012 and 2014.
"It's particularly the subcomponents measuring demand and profitability that are rising, while investments and employment remain subdued," the survey showed.
Despite recent cuts in the corporate tax rate, to a current level of 25 percent, a majority of companies surveyed called for further reductions and said this was more important than reducing the wealth tax or the tax on dividends.
"Companies in the region see the current tax level as an obstacle to increased investments and future growth," said Respons Analyse and Sparebanken Vest.
The survey covered 700 firms based in the regions of Rogaland, Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Moere og Romsdal. Readings above 50 indicate expansion, while a reading below that level signals contraction.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche)
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