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Italy Consumer Confidence Rises on Optimism Over Government

June 24 (Bloomberg) -- Italian household confidence rose this month as consumers grew optimistic about the country’s outlook as Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government plans to cut taxes and boost youth employment.

The confidence index increased in June to 95.7, the highest since March 2012, from a revised 86.4 in May, the Italian statistics office Istat said in Rome today. Economists had forecast a reading of 86.2, according to the median of 10 projections in a Bloomberg News survey.

The June reading was probably influenced by changes introduced in the sample and the methodology in the period, Istat said in the report.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta is pushing a more expansive economic policy as he looks to spur an economy grappling with the fallout from former Prime Minister Mario Monti’s austerity policies. Letta froze the payment of a property tax due this month and also signaled he may cut levies on labor.

The euro region’s third-biggest economy contracted more than initially reported in the first quarter as the slump sapped household demand. Consumer spending declined 0.3 percent in the period and joblessness increased in April to the highest in more than 36 years.

The government is also trying to postpone an increase of the value-added tax in July for at least three months, a delay that would cost Italy 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), Finance Undersecretary Pier Paolo Baretta said June 18.

Istat originally reported the consumer confidence index at 85.9 in May.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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