ROME, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Morale amongst Italian manufacturers and consumers fell in February, coming in below analysts’ expectations and suggesting the economy has had a sluggish start to the year, data showed on Friday.
National statistics institute ISTAT’s manufacturing confidence index fell to 113.4 in February from a downwardly revised 113.7 in January, lower than a median forecast of 113.9 in a Reuters survey of 12 analysts.
The January figure was previously given as 113.9.
However, ISTAT’s composite business morale index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, rose to 108.2 from a previous 105.3 thanks to improved sentiment among service providers and building companies.
Consumer confidence this month fell to 112.4 from 114.2 in January, below a median forecast of 115.0 in the Reuters’ poll and hitting its lowest level since last May.
ISTAT said the decline was caused by a deterioration in opinions on both the general and personal economic situation.
In the manufacturing sector, the outlook for both orders and production expectations fell, with a decumulation of stocks registered.
The euro zone’s third largest economy is forecast by the government to grow 4.7% this year, when gross domestic product is seen returning to pre-pandemic levels, but the Bank of Italy warned last month of growing downside risks to the economic outlook.
The confidence surveys were carried out before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the announcement of further sanctions on Moscow, which could hurt some Italian exporters.
ISTAT gave the following data on the February manufacturing confidence survey:
FEB JAN DEC NOV
Overall index 113.4 113.7r 114.9r 115.6r
Orders level 8.1 9.1r 10.1r 9.7r
Inventories -0.4 1.2r 0.5r -0.9
Output outlook 15.0 16.4r 18.0r 19.1r
— Reporting by Crispian Balmer
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