IT: Business and Consumer Confidence

Fri Aug 28 03:00:00 CDT 2015

Consensus Actual Previous Revised
Bus. Conf. Level 104.6 103.7 104.3
Mfg. Conf. Level 103.8 102.5 103.6 103.5
Cons. Conf. Level 107.5 109.0 106.5 106.7

Overall business confidence weakened slightly in August. From an unrevised 104.3 in July the headline index dropped 0.6 points to 103.7,a 3-month low.

Morale in manufacturing shed 1 point to 102.5, its second consecutive decline although this was still small enough to leave intact an essentially flat trend since March. Amongst the other major sectors, sentiment rose nearly 2 points to 119.5 in construction and was up 0.6 points at 107.5 in retail. Services slipped 0.2 points to 109.7 but this was also its second highest level over the year to date.

Meantime, consumer confidence improved significantly, rising 2.3 points to 109.0 to recover most of July's drop and secure its third highest mark since the end of the financial crisis. Buying intentions also made progress with a 4 point advance to minus 55, their second strongest reading so far in 2015. Potentially at least as important, household inflation expectations posted a useful 8 point jump and at minus 14, recorded their second best print since January 2014.

In sum, today's results suggest little change in overall economic conditions and should be reflected in broadly stable August PMIs next week.

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.