Slovenia July business sentiment up for third month in a row

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks over a bridge, after the Slovenian government called an official end to its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Sentiment among Slovenian businesses improved for the third month in a row but remained deeply negative in July, the statistics office said on Friday, after hitting an all-time low in April as the country battled the coronavirus pandemic.

The sentiment index was -18 points this month, an improvement from June’s -23.6 points but still well below the +6.3 reading of a year ago.

On a monthly level confidence improved in manufacturing, services, retail, construction and among consumers, the statistics office said.

“Manufacturing enterprises were the most optimistic regarding new orders, while the most important factor limiting production remained uncertain economic conditions, followed by insufficient domestic demand,” it added.

Analysts said business sentiment is likely to improve further in the coming months providing the coronavirus situation in Europe and globally does not worsen significantly.

Slovenia, which introduced a general coronavirus lockdown in mid-March and started to gradually lift it from April 20, has reported 2,052 coronavirus cases and 115 deaths.

The statistics office said in a separate report on Friday that the number of foreign tourists fell by 83.3% year-on-year in June and by 72.9% in the first six months of the year. Tourism is among sectors hit hardest by the epidemic.

The number of domestic tourists in June rose by 2.3% year-on-year, after the government gave a tourist voucher of up to 200 euros (182 pounds) to every citizen.

Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Catherine Evans