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Italy Business and Consumer Morale Pick Up in December

ROME, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Morale amongst Italian businesses and consumers increased in December, data showed on Friday, offering hope of an pick-up in economic activity for the euro zone's third largest economy at the start of next year.

Statistics bureau ISTAT's composite business morale index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, rose to 107.2 in December, up sharply from November's reading of 103.5 and the highest level since July.

The retail, construction and services sectors all posted gains, but manufacturing remained in its long-running doldrums, with the index falling from 96.6 to 95.4, the lowest for at least three years.

Consumer confidence jumped this month to 106.7 from 103.6 in November, easily beating a median forecast of 103.8 in a Reuters' poll of eight analysts.

Italian gross domestic product edged up by 0.1% in the third quarter from the previous three months, after contracting by 0.4% between April and June.

ISTAT said in November that economic activity was likely to slow further over the following few months, pointing to a weak fourth quarter.

The Bank of Italy forecast this month that Italy would see growth of 0.7% this year and 0.6% in 2024, just half the government's official forecast of 1.2% for next year.

ISTAT gave the following data on the December manufacturing confidence survey:


Overall index 95.4 96.6 96.0r 96.4r

Orders level -21.1 -21.2r -21.1 -19.3r

Inventories 5.2 5.2 5.5 6.0

Output outlook -1.5 1.8r 0.5r 0.2r


Reporting by Gavin Jones

Source: Reuters

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