Italy’s economy stagnated in the three months through December, failing to rebound from its longest recession on record. Gross domestic product was unchanged from the previous quarter when it dropped 0.1 percent. The median forecast called for a drop of 0.1 percent. From a year earlier, GDP fell 0.3 percent.
The euro region’s third-biggest economy may halt its slump in 2015 as both domestic and foreign demands rise. The report was released after industrial output data showed a 0.4 percent increase in December.
There might be some positive surprises in store for the Italian economy as it benefits from lower oil prices and a cheaper euro that helps exports, Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said Feb. 9. As of the end of last year, Italy’s economy had not grown since the second quarter of 2011.
Italy’s GDP will expand 0.6 percent this year and 1.3 percent next, the European Commission forecast last week. The projected rise for 2015 is the second-lowest after Cyprus among the 19 members of the euro region. “Italy is among the countries that are struggling hardest to make a start on the road to recovery,” Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco said in a speech, adding that the economy may expand more than 0.5 percent this year. That’s above the 0.4 percent growth projected in a report published by the Rome-based central bank last month.
Consumer confidence fell in February as gas prices started to rise from a six-year low and damped Americans’ optimism about the economy. The University of Michigan preliminary sentiment index decreased to 93.6 from a final January reading of 98.1 that was the highest since the start of 2004. The median projection called for no change from last month.
Prices at the gas pump have climbed this month from a six-year low, and the survey showed more Americans were less upbeat about the labour market after hearing of dismissals in the oil patch. Consumers also said they were less enthusiastic about making big purchases.
The Michigan sentiment survey’s index of expectations six months from now decreased to 87.5 from 91 last month. The gauge of current conditions, which measures Americans’ views of their personal finances, fell to 103.1 in February from 109.3 a month earlier that was the highest since January 2007. Americans expected an inflation rate of 2.8 percent in the next year, up from 2.5 percent in January. The average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.23 as of Feb. 11. The price has edged up from an almost six-year low of $2.03 reached on Jan. 25, according to motoring group AAA.
EUR - 10:00 : Eurozone Trade balance (Jan) expected to be better to 21.3B to 20.0B
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