Emerging Europe business outlook edges up

VIENNA Wed Feb 6, 2013 3:02am EST

VIENNA (Reuters) - The business climate in emerging Europe ticked higher in January for the first time since April as business investors turned more upbeat about the economic outlook in the region, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The OeKB Central and Eastern Europe Business Climate index of around 400 Austria-based direct investors edged up to 17 points, from 14 in October, returning to the level last seen in mid-2012.

Investors were more bullish about prospects for economic developments in nine of the 12 countries surveyed, with the biggest gains coming in Russia, Romania and Poland over the next 12 months, the report found.

It said investors were more upbeat about the outlook for Romania, where political stability rose after elections in December, than for Bulgaria, which elects a new parliament only later this year.

Russia and Poland had the best business climate readings, while Hungary remained in last place despite an improved reading of minus 2.

Slovenia showed the sharpest increase, gaining 12 points to positive 7, after swinging down 14 points in the previous survey, when investors had expected a sharp deterioration in the euro zone country's economic situation.

(Reporting by Michael Shields. Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

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