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Romanian January construction works jump, retail sales rise

Romanian retail sales rose an annual 23% in January, completed construction works rose 26% from a year earlier as the country joined the European Union and attracted new investment.

Construction of residential buildings increased 28% in December while completed non-residential projects rose 26%, the National Statistics Institute said in an e-mailed note today. Completed engineering works increased 25%. The annual pace accelerated from 24% in December, while the monthly figure declined 63% as January is typically the slowest month of the year for construction due to cold and inclement weather. Investment in real estate boomed in Romania as the country prepared to join the EU. European companies including Auchan SA, Carrefour SA, IKEA, Metro AG, Praktiker AG and others announced construction projects last year.

Romanian retail sales rose an annual 23% in January, the fastest pace since September, as a stronger local currency and higher wages encouraged Romanians to shop more. The increase, excluding cars and engine fuels, was led by a 30% gain in the sale of non-food goods, the NSI said, based on preliminary data. It said sales of clothing and textiles more than doubled on year. A stronger currency and higher income boosted consumption in Romania, which joined the European Union on January 1. The local currency, the leu, gained 21% against the dollar and 8.9% against the euro last year, making imports cheaper for Romanians. Average net monthly wages also rose 30% in December from a year earlier. (Bloomberg)