ECONOMY

In Brief

Fitch ups FYROM’s BB+ rating outlook to positive LONDON (Reuters) – Ratings agency Fitch has raised its outlook on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYROM) BB+ sovereign credit rating to positive from stable, citing the government’s reform efforts aimed at attracting foreign investment. «The government’s ambitious reform program to create an investor-friendly business climate and attract greenfield foreign direct investment underpins the improving creditworthiness of the sovereign,» David Heslam, director of Fitch’s Emerging Europe sovereigns group, said in a statement. Tax reforms, prudent fiscal policy, steps to cut red tape and tackle judicial shortcomings are key to boost investment, employment and growth, which is far below regional peers, Fitch said. Fitch highlighted FYROM’s trade deficit, amounting to 20.6 percent of GDP last year, and its narrow export base as weaknesses. The country remains vulnerable to commodity price shocks, especially for iron and steel which account for over a quarter of its exports, it said. Cyprus asks Marfin for data on BOC stake NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s competition watchdog yesterday requested information and data from Marfin Popular Bank (MPB) on sales of Bank of Cyprus (BOC) shares and other actions, the Competition Commission said. Earlier in August, the commission opened an inquiry into Marfin for a possible infingement of competition rules related to its acquisition of a 8.07 percent stake in BOC from Greece’s Piraeus Bank. The acquisition took place in March. In July, Marfin was fined by the regulator for failing to notify it of the stake in BOC it acquired. According to a Marfin spokesman, the bank has meanwhile disposed some of the BOC shares it held. It now owns a little more than 5 percent. Genco Shipping Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd said it had agreed to buy six dry-bulk vessels with an average age of about two years from affiliates of Evalend Shipping Co. SA for about $336 million to expand its fleet. The dry-bulk shipping company expects the deal to add to its financial results in the near term, as all the ships are expected to be delivered during the fourth quarter. Genco plans to finance the acquisition through borrowings under its $1.4 billion revolving credit facility, it said in a statement. The six vessels comprise three Supramax vessels and three Handysize vessels. Bulgaria jobless Bulgaria’s July jobless rate fell to 7.25 percent from 7.4 the previous month, mainly due to a seasonal increase in job vacancies, the Labor Ministry said yesterday. Unemployment was 8.96 percent in July of last year. Bulgaria’s economy expanded by 6.1 percent last year, after growing by 6.2 percent in 2005. (Reuters) Romania wages Romania’s average wages are expected to rise by 18-19 percent in nominal terms this year, the country’ first in the European Union, Finance and Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian said yesterday. (Reuters)