Italy Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Rises in July

Italian consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in July as households grew optimistic about the outlook for the country’s economy amid the government’s efforts to revive growth.

The confidence index increased to 97.3 from a revised 95.8 in June, the Italian statistics office Istat said in Rome today. Economists had forecast a reading of 95.5, according to the median of nine projections in a Bloomberg News survey.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government survived a confidence vote yesterday in the Rome-based Parliament on legislation aimed at reviving economic growth. The Cabinet has to submit a new fiscal plan after freezing both the payment of a property levy due in June and postponing for three months a scheduled increase of the value-added tax. Retail sales rose in May for the first time in a year, Istat said yesterday.

Letta is also seeking to stimulate the economy by paying back debt owed by the public administration to its private sector suppliers. That effort is being accelerated by the government, which is now aiming to complete 40 billion euros ($52.9 billion) of arrears payments within 12 months, Finance Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said July 19.

Istat originally reported the consumer confidence index at 95.7 in June.

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