ECONOMY

In Brief

Falling demand forces Neftochim plants to shut SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s Neftochim refinery, owned by Russian oil company Lukoil, said yesterday it has shut its polymer and petrochemical plants since September due to plunging demand. The refiner in the Black Sea port of Burgas said it was using the temporary closure to overhaul and modernize the installations and did not plan to carry out layoffs for now. «The lack of demand for petrochemical and polymer products forced a number of installations to be temporarily halted in September,» a refinery spokesman said. «There will be no layoffs to the end of the year… The [global] crisis is everywhere and it has affected us too,» he added. Its crude processing operations at the 142,000-barrels-per-day facility were not affected. The global economic downturn has hit the Balkan country hard and many businesses have been forced to shut or significantly cut operations as exports and domestic demand fall. Upgrade boosts DryShips shares DryShips Inc, whose ships transport raw commodities including iron ore and coal, rose as much as 8.4 percent after Lazard Capital Markets Ltd analyst Urs Dur upgraded the stock to a «buy» rating, saying the company’s ultra-deep-water drill rigs will be signed to attractive charters. DryShips rose as high as $7.34 and was up 52 cents, or 7.7 percent, to $7.29 at 9.40 a.m. on the Nasdaq stock market. The shares have fallen 32 percent this year. The Athens-based company may sign contracts for two of its ultra-deep-water rigs this year, with current rates at more than $500,000 per day, Dur said as he raised the rating from a «hold.» DryShips has four rigs set for delivery in 2011. «Expect new drill-ship contracts over the next two quarters to be positive catalysts,» Dur said in a note today. «DryShips is now a deep-water rig company with exposure to the dry-bulk term-charter market.» (Bloomberg) Presentations Three Frankfurt-listed companies were for the first time presented yesterday in Athens at the Association of Greek Institutional Investors, the latter announced. Systaic AG, BayWa AG and Wacker Chemie AG are active in the domains of renewable energy sources, agricultural products and specialized chemical products respectively in Germany and in other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Wacker Chemie, in particular, which was founded in 1914, has a global span and holds a leading position in the sector of chemical products for the construction of photovoltaic systems. Romanian deficit Romania’s current account deficit shrank 79 percent year-on-year to 2.4 billion euros ($3.6 billion) in January-August, the central bank said yesterday. The external shortfall has been one of Romania’s major vulnerabilities in the face of the world financial crisis and one of the main reasons that made it seek 20 billion euros in IMF-led aid earlier this year. Nevertheless the gap is narrowing sharply as the world economic crisis hit consumption and demand for Romanian goods at home and abroad. (Reuters)