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Italy business morale hits new low in January, but consumers more upbeat

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Italy business morale hits new low in January, but consumers more upbeat
Milan's business district skyline is seen from Duomo's Cathedral downtown Milan, Italy , January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini   -   Copyright  Stefano Rellandini(Reuters)
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ROME, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Morale among Italian businesses fell to its lowest for more than two years in January, but consumer sentiment picked up, data showed on Wednesday.

National statistics institute ISTAT’s manufacturing confidence index slipped to 102.1 in January from 103.4 in December, the fourth consecutive decline and the lowest reading since September 2016.

A Reuters survey of 10 analysts had forecast 103.0.

ISTAT’s composite business morale index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, fell to 99.2 from 99.7 to register its lowest level since August 2016.

However consumer confidence rose in January to 114.0 from 113.2 the month before, easily beating the median forecast in Reuters’ survey which pointed to a fall to 112.6.

The Italian economy contracted by 0.1 percent in the third quarter of last year. The Bank of Italy has forecast that fourth quarter gross domestic product data, to be released by ISTAT on Thursday, will show another decline.

The government of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League forecasts GDP growth of 1 percent this year, but most independent bodies expect it to come in at little more than half that rate.

(Reporting by Gavin Jones; Rome Newsroom + 39 06 8522 4350,

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