The businesses in Northern Greece presented a slightly improved picture in January, according to the latest Northern Greece Business Index 500 (NGBI 500) survey, although the situation still does not inspire optimism for the future, as the index still remained at a negative 29 (-29) in the first month of the year from -34 in December 2010 and compared with -10 in January last year.

The NGBI 500 statistical surveys are issued monthly by the 'Interview' surveys and polls company on a representative sampling of 500 businesses in Northern Greece. Thus the, albeit small, increase in the index results from the responses of the 500 businesses' representatives to a question on their condition in the next six months, as well as on their turnover compared with the preceding month.

In the January survey, 56 percent of the reps stated the condition of their companies as "bad" (up from 50 percent in December 2010), while just 9 percent (down from 10 percent in Dec. 2010) described their situation as "good", and 35 percent (down from 40 percent in Dec. 2010) described their situation as "satisfactory".

As for the coming six months, 16 percent anticipated an improvement in their condition (up from 9 percent in Dec. 2010), whereas 48 percent anticipated a deterioration (up from 55 percent in Dec. 2010), and 37 percent anticipated no change in their situation (up slightly from 36 percent in Dec. 2010).

With respect to employment, just 4 percent of the respondents anticipated hiring in the following month (against 5 percent in Dec. 2010), a proportion that is considered exceptionally low, falling 2 percentage points lower than in October 2009.

Regarding company turnover, 20 percent of the respondents noted an increase in January (14 percent in Dec. 2010), while 65 percent noted a decrease (61 percent in Dec. 2010), and 16 percent noted no change (25 percent in Dec. 2010).