Romania climbed to the leading position in a survey on investors’ assessment of the business climate in 11 CEE countries, the index falling to 40 points in October from 53 in July, this year.

The survey found that investors’ sentiment for CEE growth declined in this fall, as the banking and real estate system are damaged by the global economic crisis.

Thomson Reuters &OeKB index that gauges the investors’ sentiment for CEE growth fell to 29 points in October, from 44 points in July.

The poll of 400 international firms managing 1,400 companies in the region was taken as the global financial crisis gained speed and started to hit CEE countries after the bankruptcy of US bank Lehman Brothers.

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“The results show that the mood has worsened amongst direct investors in central and Eastern Europe”, said Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (OeKB).

However, any result above zero indicates that there is still confidence. Despite the steep fall, the survey finds that representatives of certain companies have a positive opinion on the current business climate and their business expectations.

All in all, the score for economic growth fell below zero for the first time, to -1, from 31 in the previous quarter.

“The vast majority of direct investors expect that economic growth will clearly weaken in the next 12 months”, said OeKB. The weakest results came from the banking sector; with 40% bankers saying the gross internal product in the region will shrink.