ECONOMY

Business optimism on the rise

Greece’s economic climate index showed a slight improvement in July after three months of stability, according to data released by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) yesterday. The general index rose to 101.2 points from 100.9 in June, helped by the construction industry, while consumer confidence remained lackluster. The index of business expectations in construction advanced to 129 points from 124.1 the previous month; 31 percent of the sector’s firms said their work schedule or backlog of projects was better than «normal» for the season. The rate is the highest since October 2001. Also, the percentage of firms stating that construction activity is conducted without problems rose to 24 percent from 19 percent in June. The business expectations index in industry fell to 100.9 points from 101.2 in June but remained at higher levels than the first months of the year. Forecasts for production and sales were upbeat although weaker than June’s, while stocks were considered slightly above normal. The percentage of industrial firms that consider their activity as facing no problems fell to 61 percent, with 24 percent pinpointing inadequate demand as the main problem; 87 percent of firms expects stable prices, 7 percent a rise and 6 percent a fall. The retail trade expectations index fell to 112.1 points from 114.1 in June mainly as a result of less optimism in clothing and footwear. Sales of foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, household equipment and in department stores are expected to rise. Finally, a slow recovery is noted in services, where short-term forecasts are cautious but the percentage of firms expecting prices to rise advanced from 8 percent to 13 percent.