IT: Business and Consumer Confidence

Tue Jul 28 03:00:00 CDT 2015

Consensus Actual Previous Revised
Bus. Conf. Level 104.0 104.3 104.3 104.7
Cons. Conf. Level 109.0 106.5 109.5 109.3
Mfg. Conf. Level 103.6 103.6 103.9

Istat's July's business confidence survey was a little more upbeat than expected. At 104.3 the headline sentiment indicator was down 0.4 points but only from a slightly stronger revised June outturn to record easily its second highest level so far in 2015.

The overall deterioration reflected a gentle worsening in manufacturing morale which dipped from 103.9 to 103.6 although this remained within the very tight range seen since March. Amongst the other major sectors confidence fell 2.1 points to 117.6 in construction but rose 0.8 points to 110.0 in services and gained 0.6 points to 106.5 in retail.

However, despite the gain in retail, there was a surprisingly sharp fall in consumer confidence which, at 106.5, was almost 3 points short of its downwardly revised June mark. Worryingly, the buying intentions gauge declined from minus 54 to minus 59 and inflation expectations also moved in the wrong direction, slipping 2 points to minus 22, their weakest mark in four months. Current levels are still well above recent lows but the fall in all three measures is not good news.

Today's results point to little change in the July PMIs and so suggest that the economy continued to expand at a modest pace the start of the current quarter.

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.