Economic climate hits 18-yr low

Greek economic sentiment hit an 18-year low last month, as uncertainty from the global financial crisis weighed on consumers and businesses across all sectors, according to a report made public yesterday. The monthly survey, put together by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) think tank, said Greece’s economic sentiment index fell to 72.9 points from 83.3 in September – retreating for the ninth straight month. «It is obvious that the crisis – which is affecting the world economy – general uncertainty and an inability to forecast its size and impact continue to affect consumers and businesses,» said IOBE. The index measures business expectations in the industrial, construction, retail trade and services sectors, while also taking into account consumer sentiment. Forecasts across all industries were negative with expectations in the industrial sector «very low and new orders limited, resulting in growing stock reserves,» according to IOBE. Demand in the services sector was steady but forecasts for the immediate future were negative, while sales in retail trade failed to meet expectations. The data come a day after news that Greece’s manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in 22 months in October due to a fall in new orders. On the European Union level, the index for the 27 member states fell to 77.5 points in October from 85.2 in the previous month, as expectations in every country got worse. «Greece is not the only country to show a new record low in October, as Luxembourg, Estonia, Spain and Hungary are countries also showing new record lows,» IOBE added. IOBE assessed 1,000 businesses and 1,500 consumers as part of an EU program measuring economic sentiment. [email protected]