IT: Business and Consumer Confidence

Mon Mar 30 03:00:00 CDT 2015

Actual Previous Revised
Bus. Conf. Level 103.0 94.9 97.5
Mfg. Conf. Level 103.7 99.1 100.5
Cons. Conf. Level 110.9 110.9 107.7

Business sentiment improved sharply in March according to the latest survey from Istat. At 103.0 the composite headline index was up 5.5 points versus its stronger revised mid-quarter level and reflective of broad-based gains in confidence amongst the major sectors.

Manufacturing morale climbed 3.2 points to 103.7, its highest level since June 2011, while the comparable consumer sector gauge rose from 107.7 to 110.9, its fourth gain in as many months. Services recorded an impressive 7.7 point jump to 108.1, construction surged 7.5 points to 116.0 and retail was up 2 points at 103.0. Moreover, within the consumer survey, the buying intentions index climbed 18 points to its highest level in more than three years and household price expectations rose for the first time since time since December.

Today's findings bode well for the upcoming March manufacturing and service sector PMIs and suggest that the key composite output index could see a decent bounce this month.

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.