Housing prices rise again in annual terms after 6 years of continuously dropping in Spain

September 1, 2014 07:17 PM | ACN

The real estate market has stopped its downward trend and has started its recovery in Spain. Housing prices already registered an increase in September of 2013 in quarterly terms, but now the prices grew for the first time in annual terms, a phenomenon not registered for the last 6 years. By the end of June 2014, prices grew by 0.97% compared to June 2013. In quarterly terms, housing prices increased by 1.53% compared to March 2014. Since the start of the economic crisis in 2008, housing prices have plummeted an average of 32% throughout Spain, with prices equivalent to those registered in 2003. In the second quarter of 2014, Catalonia was the Autonomous Community with the second highest number of housing sales, registering 11,980 operations.

Catalonia's economic recovery gets stronger as GDP grew by 0.6% between April and June 2014

August 6, 2014 07:14 PM | ACN

The Catalan economy grew by 1.3% from July 2013 to June 2014. However, the economic recovery has particularly sped up and got stronger over the second quarter of 2014, when it grew by 0.6% in quarterly terms, according to data released on Wednesday by the Catalan Statistics Institute (Idescat) and the Catalan Finance Ministry. The GDP growth between April and June was higher than the one registered during the first quarter of the year, set at 0.4%. With the 0.6% registered at the end of June, Catalonia has achieved 5 consecutive quarters of posting positive figures, leaving the recession more than a year behind. Regarding economic sectors, services have led the economic recovery, posting a 1.8% annual growth at the end of the first half of 2014.

Exports from the Port of Barcelona increase by 63% from pre-crisis levels registered in 2008

July 18, 2014 08:36 PM | ACN

63% more exports have been channelled through the Port of Barcelona during the first six months of 2014 than in the same period of 2008, prior to the economic crisis. On Friday, the President of Barcelona Port Authority, Sixte Cambra, announced that 2014 will be the year of record sums of exports and imports from the Catalan port. The Port finished the first half of 2014 with 22.5 million tons of goods transported, representing an increase of 7% compared with the same period of 2013. Cambra said that growth occurred in all cargo sections of the port, driven by foreign trade, especially exports.

Property sales in Catalonia increased by 13% in April 2014, compared with 5.3% Spanish average

June 11, 2014 09:38 PM | ACN

The sale of homes in Catalonia rose 13.1% this April, compared with the same month last year, according to the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE).  April 2014 saw the sale of 3,724 properties in Catalonia, 3,334 of which were free (89.5%) and 390 protected (10.5%).  Of these transactions, 32% corresponded to newly-built flats and 68% were of existing homes.  Across Spain, sales have increased by 5.3% in annual terms, with a total of 24,968 transactions registered. Thus, Catalonia sits comfortably above the Spanish average, but was surpassed by eight other Autonomous Communities, including the Basque Country, Cantabria and the Balearic Islands, where purchases increased by 48.8%, 41 6% and 28.5%, respectively.

War and Superheroes, the main highlights of 32nd International Comic Fair in Barcelona

May 21, 2014 09:43 PM | Simão Chambel

This year the Barcelona International Comic Fair celebrated its 32nd edition by looking back at the golden age of superhero comics and the wars that shaped History. Organizers FICOMIC increased this year´s event space from 19,000 to 32,000 square meters, which resulted in attendance figures of 106,000 throughout all four days and an increase in sales of comics and other products. The Fair Director, Carles Santamaría, stated that “weare satisfied with the high participation of the audience in an edition that has beaten its record for space”. The festival was once again characterized by the presence of well-known names of the comic universe, such as Spanish artists Paco Roca and Francisco Ibañez, Canadian Ramón K. Perez and Maltese Joe Sacco.

Housing sales in Catalonia increased by more than 40% on 2013 figures in March

May 13, 2014 11:34 PM | ACN

Sales of residential real state in Catalonia increased by 42.8% in March compared to the same month in 2013, according to data released on Tuesday by the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE). In the whole of Spain, housing sales grew by 22.8% in the same period, with 27,047 transactions. In Catalonia, 3,944 residential units were sold: 1,267 were newly-built houses (32.12%) while the remaining 2,677 were second-hand (67.88%). 3,567 (90.44%) were open market while the remaining 377 (9.56%) were subsidised housing units. Catalonia is the Autonomous Community with the second highest percentage increase in sales, coming after the Balearic Islands, which registered 71% increase.

Sant Jordi 2014: sun shines on Catalan festival of books and roses

April 24, 2014 03:35 PM | Simão Chambel

Perhaps the most famous holiday in Catalonia, Sant Jordi combines culture with romance as books and roses are exchanged. As we all know by now, the legend of Saint George is a celebration of love epitomized by the brave knight who saved a princess from a terrible dragon thus harvesting a beautiful rose from its blood. So how did that become a day for buying and promoting books? Back in 1928, some Catalan booksellers decided to promote the holiday by setting some bookstalls all over the city to celebrate the anniversary of the death of two of the biggest names in literature, Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Catalan Book Day was born and it would be declared World Book Day by UNESCO in 1995. The day after the Easter break combined with great weather resulted in a 3% increase in book sales. Swedish author Jonas Jonasson, Spanish authors Almudena Grandes and Pilar Urbano and Catalan writer and athlete Kilian Jornet were the bestsellers for 2014.

Offering books and roses to the beloved ones: Catalans celebrate Sant Jordi Day

April 23, 2014 12:23 PM | ACN

On the 23rd of April, Catalans celebrate one of their dearest festivities of the year: Sant Jordi (Saint George). The day is Catalonia's equivalent to Valentine's Day in the Anglo-Saxon world but it also represents a homage to literature and reading. Traditionally men offered red roses to their girlfriends or wives, and women offered a book in return. Nowadays, both men and women offer books and roses to those they love, whether their life partners, relatives, friends or even work colleagues. On almost every corner and on the main streets throughout Catalonia there are stands selling either roses or books. It is the day celebrating love but also the most important day for the publishing industry, selling around 8% of their yearly sales and advertising the latest gimmicks. In a country with 7.5 million people, some 7 million roses are sold and around 1.5 million books on this single day.

Catalonia’s new tax on 15,000 empty flats owned by banks as “incentive” to have them rented

March 5, 2014 08:05 PM | ACN

The Catalan Minister for Territory and Sustainability, Santi Vila, who is also in charge of housing policies, presented on Tuesday the draft of a new tax bill on empty flats and houses owned by financial institutions in Catalonia. During a press conference, Vila explained that such a tax is looking to be an “incentive” for banks to make available their 15,000 flats spread across 70 municipalities with “proven demand” for housing, mainly around Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida and Girona, and which have been empty for more than 2 years without a justified cause. The amount of the tax will be based on the total number of square meters owned by the banks and will include significant accumulative bonuses if the institutions decide to rent their properties, notably for social housing. The Catalan Government estimates that banks own around 40,000 empty flats, including in areas with housing demand.


SEAT unveils new car models: Leon Cupra and Mii by Mango

March 4, 2014 09:16 PM | ACN

Barcelona-based SEAT, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, has chosen the Geneva Motor Show to introduce its new vehicle in the Leon range, the cars whose sales increased the most in 2013, with a total of 102,000 units sold. This latest creation is the new Leon Cupra, by far the most powerful and the fastest vehicle manufactured by the Catalan company, whose main factory is located in Martorell (Greater Barcelona). With its 280 horsepower, this sports model will hit the market in both 5-door and 3-door versions. Coinciding with the opening of the event this Tuesday, SEAT also presented the Mango version of its Mii city car, a special edition resulting from the collaboration between designers at the SEAT Martorell plant and the Catalan fashion multinational which includes, amongst other novelties, exclusive paintings in beige and black.

Home sales in Catalonia up by 5% in 2013 while they decrease in Spain

February 13, 2014 04:47 PM | ACN

Housing sales in Catalonia have reached 45,064 units in 2013, representing a 4.8% increase on the previous year, according to data published on Wednesday by the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE). Such figures are the highest since 2010, when 55,857 transactions were registered. Besides, in monthly terms, in December 2013, there were 3,014home sales in Catalonia, amounting to a 2.6% increase on the same month last year. At Spanish level, residential property transactions dropped to 311,414 in 2013, meaning a 2.2% decrease. The December figures reveal a similar trend, with the number of sales falling to 22,723 units in the entire country, a 3.6% decrease compared to the same month last year.

Volkswagen to decide whether Catalonia will produce SEAT's new SUV

January 14, 2014 08:36 PM | ACN / Esther Romagosa

In the coming weeks, the management of Volkswagen Group should decide where to produce its latest SUV model, designed in the SEAT Technical Centre in Martorell (Greater Barcelona) and featuring two versions, one for the Catalan brand and the other one for Skoda. The President of the SEAT Workers Committee in Martorell, Matias Carnero, argued that the Catalonia-based factory was the most competitive to produce the vehicle. These past weeks, some sources have asserted that Martorell’s main rival, the Skoda plant in the Czech Republic, would ultimately be chosen. Indeed, it is believed that the President of SEAT Jürgen Stackmann hinted at such a fact in several internal meetings. However, Matias Carnero insisted that the Martorell factory had never been completely ruled out.

Car manufacturer SEAT increases sales by 10.6% in 2013

January 10, 2014 04:31 PM | ACN

Barcelona-based SEAT, which is part of the Volkswagen group, sold 355,000 vehicles last year, representing a 10.6% increase on 2012 figures. The Catalan brand has not sold so many cars since 2008. The SEAT Leon car model was the company’s strongest asset, with 102,000 cars purchased in 2013, which is a 44% sales increase on the previous year. SEAT’s President, Jürgen Stackmann, highlighted “the commercial impetus” that the company currently has, “especially in Europe, when in a market context of sales drop, SEAT is growing faster than its competitors”. In Western Europe, which is the brand’s main market, the Catalan company increased sales by 9.4%, selling 273,200, 23,500 more cars than in 2012.

Increase in consumption for this year’s winter sales

January 7, 2014 07:58 PM | ACN

For the first time since the beginning of the crisis, sales have already shown a “slight recovery” during Christmas, highlighted the President of Catalonia’s Confederation of Commerce (CCC), Miguel Ángel Fraile, who is “very optimistic” about the upcoming winter sales. Indeed, during the months of November and December, retail consumption have registered an increase of 2% and 3% compared to the previous year. It is expected that Catalans will spend a total of about €800 million during the winter sales, between 3% and 5% more than last year. These estimates by CCC also indicate that, on average, each citizen will spend €90 for the purchase of clothing items.

Italian and German investment funds buy two Catalan Government buildings

December 20, 2013 08:42 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government put 4 buildings up for auction this Friday, following a plan to rationalise the spaces it uses, reduce spending and increase revenue in order to reduce public deficit. The headquarters of the Catalan Finance Ministry, located in a 8,000 square metre Art-Nouveau building in Barcelona’s Rambla Catalunya, has been bought by an Italian pharmaceutical company through FINAF 92 for €23.2 million. The other building, with a surface of 7,200 square metres, was used by the Catalan Police and is located in front of Barcelona’s Ciutadella Park. It has been bought by the German hotel company MO Düsseldorf Immermannstrasse GmbH & CO. KG for €14.1 million. On Thursday, the Catalan Government announced a plan to reduce its office space by 45% in the coming year by concentrating services. The plan includes selling the most attractive buildings.