ECONOMY

In Brief

Consumer confidence worsens in January Economic sentiment in Greece was stable in January after deteriorating over the previous two months but consumer confidence fell sharply as the country’s fiscal crisis deepened, the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said yesterday. Its economic climate index – based on business expectations sub-indices covering industry, construction, retail trade, services and consumer confidence – rose slightly to 76.1 from 75.9 points in December. Economic sentiment in Greece is out of step with eurozone trends. The 16-nation bloc’s economic sentiment benchmark strengthened more than expected in January, reaching 95.7 points. «Consumer projections regarding the course of unemployment in the next 12 months worsened further in January, while there is also a significant drop in consumer plans for major purchases (furniture, electrical appliances etc.),» IOBE said. (Reuters) Romania cuts rates, says IMF deal essential BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s central bank cut its benchmark rate by 50 basis points to 7 percent, as expected, to aid the recession-hit economy but warned that enforcing tough measures agreed to with the International Monetary Fund was essential for recovery. The move comes after a surprise half-point cut in January following the creation of a shaky center-right majority cabinet that ended a long political crisis and helped unfreeze a 20-billion-euro IMF-led aid deal. With the deal back on track, Romania must now streamline its bloated public administration, sacking as many as 100,000 state workers this year, and enforce painful wage and pension freezes. The measures are expected to spark nationwide strikes by state workers later this month, and pensioners yesterday threatened to sue the cabinet over planned freezes but the central bank said the fiscal tightening was crucial. Turk nuclear plant US firms would be interested in building a nuclear power plant if Turkey opens a new tender and Washington would provide incentives, US Ambassador in Ankara James Jeffrey said yesterday. (Reuters) Bulgaria-Nabucco Bulgaria’s parliament ratified yesterday an agreement on the Nabucco natural gas pipeline signed by the project’s host countries last year and aimed at cutting Europe’s dependence on Russian gas supplies. In July 2009, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria signed the agreement which ironed out details over transit and tax issues in a move to boost the 7.9-billion-euro European Union-backed project. (Reuters) Serbia-China Serbia and China have agreed to financing terms for $1.25-billion worth of projects to upgrade two power plants, make them environmentally friendly and boost coal output, the government said yesterday. Projects include the upgrade of two existing blocs in Kostolac, on the Danube, of 350 megawatts each, desulfurization for both units and an increase of an open-pit coal mine capacity to 12 million tons of coal a year. (Reuters)