: Lebanon's information portal International 194 39 Slight Pick up in Consumer Confidence in First Half of 2015 Byblos Bank issued today, in cooperation with the Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut, the results of the Byblos Bank/AUB Consumer Confidence Index for the first half of 2015. Balance of payments posts deficit of $1.3bn in first half of 2015 Central Bank figures show that Lebanon's balance of payments posted a deficit of $1.3bn in the first half of 2015 compared to a surplus of $215.7m in the same period last year, Byblos Bank ‘Lebanon This Week’ reported. The The average price of a first floor apartment in Beirut is of USD 3,720 per SQM A recent study conducted by RAMCO Real Estate Advisers has revealed that the average price of a first floor apartment under construction in Beirut is of USD 3,720 per SQM. At an average size of 238 SQM, the average value of such Number of new construction permits down 14% in first seven months of 2015 The Orders of Engineers & Architects of Beirut and of Tripoli issued 8,657 new construction permits in the first seven months of 2015, constituting a decrease of 14.3% from 10,096 permits in the same period last year, relative Lebanon net public debt at $59bn at end-June 2015 Lebanon's gross public debt reached $69bn at the end of June 2015, constituting an increase of 3.7% from the end of 2014 and a rise of 5% from $65.7bn at end-June 2014, Byblos Bank ‘Lebanon This Week’ reported. Domestic Oil prices fall to five-month low ICE Brent crude oil futures prices closed at $52.3 per barrel (p/b) at the end of July 2015, constituting a decline of 13.8% month-on-month and of 4.5% in the first seven months of 2015, Byblos Bank ‘Lebanon This Week’ Iran needs at least five years to grow gas capacity Fitch Ratings indicated that it will take Iran at least five years to increase its gas production and build the pipelines necessary to become one of the world's largest gas exporters, even if international sanctions are removed, Launch of technology start-up accelerator in Lebanon Venture capital funds Berytech Fund II, Insure & Match Capital and Middle East Venture Partners launched a $5m Beirut-based startup accelerator named Speed@BDD, Byblos Bank ‘Lebanon This Week’ reported. The accelerator Nine Lebanese banks among Top 1000 banks in the world In its 2015 survey of the Top 1000 commercial banks in the world, The Banker magazine included nine Lebanese banks on the list, up from eight banks last year, none of which ranked among the top 25 banks in the Middle East. The list Construction and public work activity deteriorates in first quarter of 2015 in Lebanon The Central Bank's quarterly business survey shows that construction activity regressed during the first quarter of 2015, as the balance of opinions stood at -31, compared to -23 in the preceding quarter and to -14 in the same