Gaspar hails Portugal’s progress

■ Portugal’s painful economic reforms are producing encouraging results, its finance minister and his German counterpart said yesterday after meeting in Berlin. Competitiveness is improving and government spending is now under control, Wolfgang Schaeuble and Vitor Gaspar said in a joint statement. Gaspar added that Portugal’s Treasury bill auction yesterday achieved interest rates similar to neighbouring Spain’s which showed, he argued, that the country was rebuilding its access to debt markets. At an oversubscribed auction which included 18-month issue that will not be redeemed until after the end of Portugal’s bailout, the average yield on 18-month debt fell to 2.967 per cent from 4.537 per cent in April.