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Italy consumer confidence rises sharply in February

Staff writer |
Italy's consumer confidence rose for a second straight month in February to its strongest level in more than a decade, figures from the statistical office ISTAT revealed.

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The consumer confidence index climbed to 110.9 from 104.4 in January. Economists had expected the figure to hold steady. The latest score was the highest since June 2002.

Improvement was witnessed in all sub-indexes of the consumer confidence measure. Positive news from the labor market and improvement on the political scene likely boosted households' expectations.

The manufacturing confidence also strengthened in February with the corresponding index climbing to 99.1 from 97.6. That was better than the score of 98 forecast by economists. It was the highest reading since June last year, when it was 99.3.

The composite business confidence index rose to 94.9 from 91.6. Morale improved in the services sector and retail trade, but weakened in construction.

Italy's retail sales in December unexpectedly increased from a year ago, marking the first gain in eight months, separate data from ISTAT showed. Retail sales edged up 0.1 percent year-on-year, which was the first increase since April last year. Economists had expected November's 2 percent fall to repeat in December.

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