Italy Industrial Output Unexpectedly Falls as Slump Persists

Italian industrial production unexpectedly fell in July, signaling that the euro region’s third-biggest economy may still be stuck in its longest recession since World War II.

Output fell 1.1 percent from June, when it rose a revised 0.2 percent, national statistics office Istat said in Rome today. Economists had estimated a 0.3 percent increase, according to the median of 16 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Output fell 4.3 percent from a year earlier when adjusted for working days.

“We need to see a considerable upward correction in the following months to see activity gaining momentum over the quarter,” Annalisa Piazza, an analyst at Newedge Group in London, said in a note to investors. “So far, it looks like activity will remain on a downward trend.”

While the euro-region economy returned to growth in the second quarter, Italy’s shrank 0.3 percent as unemployment near a record high restrained consumer demand. Today’s data contrasts with signs of optimism in recent surveys.

The government forecasts that the economy will return to growth next quarter and continue to expand in 2014, Finance Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said Sept. 8.

Both consumer and business confidence rose last month amid expectations that the country would soon return to growth. Gross domestic product is estimated to be little changed in the three months through September and rise by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, employers lobby Confindustria said yesterday.

Rome-based Confindustria said it expects the economy to shrink 1.6 percent this year and expand 0.7 percent in 2014. In June, it estimated GDP would fall 1.9 percent in 2013 and rise 0.5 percent next year.

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