Italy business and consumer morale rise in April as government eases COVID-19 restrictions

ROME - Morale amongst Italian businesses and consumers rose in April, data showed on Tuesday, as the government announced an easing of coronavirus restrictions.

National statistics institute ISTAT's manufacturing confidence index jumped to 105.4 in April from a revised 101.9 in March, posting its highest reading since September 2018 and easily beating the median forecast of 102.5 in a Reuters survey of 11 analysts.

ISTAT's composite business morale index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, increased to 97.3 from March's revised reading of 94.2 and reached the highest level since February 2020, just before the country's COVID-19 outbreak emerged.

Mario Draghi's government eased restrictions on business and movement from the start of this week, following a gradual decline in infection rates.

Business and consumer sentiment may also have been buoyed by the promise of billions of euros of European Union funds to help the recession-bound economy.

Draghi aims to present an economic Recovery Plan by the end of April to obtain more than 200 billion euros from an EU kitty set up to help countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

Consumer confidence rose this month to 102.3 from an unrevised 100.9 in March, just beating a median forecast of 102.0 in Reuters' poll.

More than 119,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Italy since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second highest toll in Europe and the seventh highest in the world.

The euro zone's third largest economy contracted by 8.9% last year, its steepest post-war decline in gross domestic product. Rome's official forecast is for a rebound of 4.5% this year.




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