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Italian Business Confidence Increases in March

Italian business confidence unexpectedly rose in March even after inconclusive elections last month produced a political gridlock in the nation mired in its fourth recession since 2001.

The manufacturing-sentiment index rose to 88.9 from a revised 88.6 the previous month, Rome-based national statistics institute Istat said today. Economists had predicted a reading of 88, according to the median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Italy’s Feb. 24-25 vote failed to produce a clear majority, raising concerns the next government may fail to address the country’s economic issues.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti said last week that gross domestic product will fall 1.3 percent this year as exports may fail to offset the effect of shrinking domestic demand. That compares with a 1.8 percent contraction forecast by Fitch Ratings earlier this month.

Industrial output unexpectedly rose in January, led by increases in production of food and beverages and textiles, Istat said in a March 19 report.

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