ECONOMY

In Brief

Lift for emerging Europe business sentiment VIENNA/PRAGUE (Reuters) – Business sentiment among foreign companies operating in emerging Europe improved for the first time since early 2007 as expectations for business in the next six months, and for the overall economy, rose markedly. The Thomson Reuters & OeKB Central and Eastern European Business Climate index released yesterday showed improved morale in every country of the region, although it remained negative on balance. The index rose to minus 7 in July, from minus 15 in April, turning positive again in Poland and the Czech Republic, and to zero for Russia, which showed the biggest change from minus 20. IMF bailout recipients Hungary and Ukraine fared the worst. The rise in the index adds to improving signs from other leading indicators such as the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data for Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, but this trend has yet to filter through into real output data. Bulgarian stocks boosted by reform prospects Bulgarian stocks, the world’s best performers this month, were raised to «neutral» by Credit Agricole Cheuvreux on speculation the new government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov will bring reform to the European Union’s poorest member. The Sofix Index of equities has climbed 20 percent this month after Borisov’s Cabinet was sworn in on July 27 promising to stem the deepening recession, fight corruption, raise living standards and push the economy closer to Western Europe by taking the euro as soon as possible. The index has risen 19 percent this year compared with 50 percent for the MSCI Emerging Market Index. The government «looks like it really means business with reforms, and that it will stick to the budget surplus this year,» Simon Quijano-Evans, head of central and east European strategy and economics at Cheuvreux in Vienna, said in an interview. «It’s the only country that will probably see a budget surplus in the region this year, which is needed to keep currency board,» a system that pegs the lev to the euro. (Bloomberg) Cement imports Egypt imported 512,000 tons of cement from January to August 5 and the figure is expected to almost double to 1 million tons by the end of August, the Trade Ministry said on yesterday. Rising local demand for cement had prompted the ministry to extend a ban on cement exports first introduced in April until October 2010. Housing demand in Egypt remains buoyant even as hundreds of billions of dollars worth of construction projects have been put on hold elsewhere in the Middle East since the financial crisis curbed property investment. Cement producers had said in July they were ready to import around 1 million tons in the next two months to help meet growing demand. (Reuters) Tallest building Kiler Holding, a Turkish company with interests in retail, construction and energy, may seek financing to complete its $250 million Istanbul Sapphire tower, the tallest building in Southeastern Europe. «We may need to get some project financing to complete the building early,» the company’s Chairman Nahit Kiler said in an interview yesterday. (Bloomberg)