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German investor confidence up for 4th month

German investor confidence up for 4th month

BERLIN: A closely-watched survey has found that German investor confidence has risen for the fourth month in a row — another sign that Europe’s biggest economy should avoid slipping into recession.
The ZEW institute said Tuesday that its confidence index rose to 22.3 points in March from 5.4 in February. The survey reflects investors’ economic outlook for the next six months.
Economists expect Germany to grow, albeit modestly in the first quarter of this year. In the last three months of 2011, it shrank by a quarterly rate of 0.2 percent as it suffered from the fallout of Europe’s debt crisis..
Growth in the first quarter of this year would mean Germany avoids a recession — officially defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Tycoon Vekselberg resigns from Rusal’s board
MOSCOW: Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg has stepped down as chairman of aluminum giant Rusal, warning of a “deep crisis” at the company.
The resignation prompted Rusal to suspend trading of its shares Tuesday after they shed 1.3 percent of their value on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Vekselberg said in a statement issued late Monday that Rusal was being badly managed and had been weighed down by debt.
The company, the world’s largest aluminum producer, replied Tuesday by saying it had planned to replace Vekselberg for failing to fulfill his duties as board chairman over the past year.
Vekselberg had chaired the board of Rusal since its founding in 2007. He is Rusal’s third-largest shareholder and holds a 15.8 percent stake in the company.

Bundesbank head cautions on ECB crisis measures
FRANKFURT, Germany: Germany’s top central banker says the European Central Bank needs a plan to withdraw its massive emergency loans to banks to prevent inflation risks from appearing.
Jens Weidmann, the head of Germany’s Bundesbank, says in an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the risks the ECB has taken were “to a certain degree unavoidable” but need to be kept “within justifiable limits.”
He says that means it is important that the ECB “quickly develops a plan for how the substantial liquidity provisions through central banks are withdrawn at the right time so that no inflation risk arises from them.”
The ECB has made two rounds of emergency three year loans totaling just over €1 trillion ($1.31 trillion). The step has been credited with helping ease Europe’s government debt crisis.

Austria wants more leeway for Hungarian budget
BRUSSELS: The decision to give Spain some more leeway on cutting this year’s deficit is already triggering demands for more fiscal leniency for other European countries.
Finance ministers from the eurozone said Monday that Spain will be allowed to run a deficit of 5.3 percent of gross domestic product this year, above the original 4.4 percent target. The 2013 deficit will still have to be slashed to 3 percent though.
But that decision on Tuesday prompted Austria to demand similar leniency for Hungary, which faces losing access to €495 million ($649 million) in EU development because of its deficit.
Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said she had the feeling “that double standards are being applied.”

Snam to invest $8.8 billion in Italy’s gas network
MILAN: Snam SpA, the natural gas distribution unit of Italian oil company Eni, says it plans to invest €6.7 billion ($8.8 billion) to develop the gas infrastructure network in Italy.
Snam said the investment is aimed at creating a southern European gas hub and includes an investment of €1.4 billion this year.
The company plans to add 1,000 kilometers to the 32,000-kilometer gas network, while developing two-way gas flows to allow transit from southern to northern Europe.
Premier Mario Monti has stipulated the sale of Snam as part of his government’s economic program to improve competition. Snam said Monday that it would seek to raise capital by the end of the year to refinance debt.