|Bus. Conf. Level||87.8||91.6||87.6|
|Mfg. Conf. Level||98.0||97.1||97.3|
|Cons. Conf. Level||99.9||104.0||99.9||99.7|
Consumer confidence improved surprisingly sharply this month according to the new Istat survey. At 104.0, the sentiment gauge was up 4.1 points versus a marginally stronger revised December reading and at its highest level since July. The advance in sentiment was broad-based and, potentially significantly, the buying intentions index climbed more than 20 points to minus 67.
However, manufacturing was rather less optimistic and morale here fell a couple of ticks to 97.1, its first decline in four months. The modest dip largely reflected slightly softer output expectations.
Still, overall business sentiment climbed a healthy 4 points to 91.6, its best reading since September 2011, as confidence in both services and construction registered decent gains.
Today's findings should make for some upside potential to next week's January PMIs and may mean that the Italian economy is finally pulling out of recession.
Istat's business and consumer confidence surveys are conducted over the first fifteen and ten working days of each reference month respectively and provide information about current and expected developments in key sector variables. The largely qualitative results are synthesized for each survey into a single number that provides an overall measure of sentiment. Business confidence reflects the combined results of separate surveys covering manufacturing, retail, construction and services.
If investors want to know how the business or consumer sectors are performing as they evaluate their investment decisions, they can find timely and in depth information in the latest Istat surveys. Although short-term swings can be erratic, changes in trends in confidence can contain very useful information about a sector's underlying health well in advance of the release of the official data. Moreover, by including some forward-looking components (e.g. manufacturing orders or consumer buying intentions) the Istat surveys can also provide a potential insight into prospective developments.
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