Business mood better, but not much

The economic climate in Greece improved slightly for a second straight month in July but overall business conditions remain poor, with the retail and construction sectors in the worst situation, according to the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE). The Athens-based think tank said that its index – which measures short-term economic trends – rose to 66.3 points in July, from 63.8 in June and 61.8 in May. «Essentially, business expectations have simply steadied and the climate has not particularly changed, with the general feeling of discontent on the course of the economy remaining strong,» it said in a statement. Business sentiment in retail hit a new historic low in July due to very poor sales expectations for the current period. Earlier this week, traders indicated that revenues from the summer sales season, now in its third week, are about 10 percent lower than last year’s levels as reduced prices fail to tempt consumers scared off by the worsening job market. Consumer confidence rose one point to minus 66 points from a historic low of minus 67 in June and May, IOBE said. Meanwhile, sentiment in the construction industry also worsened, due to a poor outlook for future projects, the think tank added. On the positive side, there was a slight improvement in sentiment in the industrial sector, in line with a small spike in the services sector. In broader terms, business sentiment among the European Union’s 27 member states rose to 102.2 points in July from 100.3 points in June, mainly due to a more upbeat economic mood in Germany, the continent’s largest economy.