Italy's Economy Grows as Exports Rise Amid Signs Recovery May Be Slowing

Italy’s exports gained in the three months through June as the economy expanded more than initially reported, amid signs the recovery may slow in coming months.

Sales abroad climbed 3.3 percent from the first quarter, Rome-based statistics institute Istat said in its final report on gross domestic product today. Household spending remained flat, according to the report.

“Weak labor market continued to hit disposable income and Italian households remain extremely worried about their financial conditions,” said Annalisa Piazza, an economist at Newedge Group in London. “No rebound in personal consumption is expected any time soon.”

Gross domestic product rose 0.5 percent in the second quarter and 1.3 percent from a year earlier, Istat said. The quarterly reading was higher than a June 8 preliminary projection of 0.4 percent growth, which was also the median forecast of 17 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The $2.1 trillion economy expanded 0.4 percent in the first quarter.

As Italy emerged from its worst recession since World War II, the unemployment rate fell in July to 8.4 percent from the highest in more than eight years. Still, there are signals that the recovery may be slowing. Industrial output rose 0.1 percent in July on a monthly basis and 4.8 percent from a year ago, Istat said in a separate report today. Both readings were lower than forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Spending Cuts

Consumer confidence fell in August to a 15-month low as concern about austerity measures passed by the government and the economic outlook made households less willing to spend. In July, the Italian parliament approved 25 billion euros ($31.8 billion) of spending cuts for the next two years to trim the deficit after Greece’s near-default led euro-region governments to adopt measures to protect the single currency.

The Italian economy will contract 0.3 percent in the three months through September on an annualized quarter-on-quarter basis, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said yesterday in a report. The forecast compares with a projected 1.1 percent expansion in Germany, while the French economy will grow 0.3 percent, the OECD said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at ltotaro@bloomberg.net

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