IT: Business and Consumer Confidence

Wed Apr 27 03:00:00 CDT 2016

Consensus Actual Previous Revised
Mfg. Conf. Level 102.8 102.7 102.2
Cons. Conf. Level 114.3 114.2 115.0 114.9
Bus. Conf. Level 102.7 100.1 100.2

Business sentiment rose 2.5 points to 102.7 in April. The increase reversed most of March's 2.8 point decline and put the headline index at its second highest mark of the year to date.

Within the overall gain, confidence in manufacturing improved 0.5 points to 102.7, its second successive increase but still short of the 103.1 reading posted at the start of 2016. Construction (121.2 after 118.4) also saw a tidy rise and services (107.8 after 103.6) posted their best mark since December. However, retail (102.0 after 104.9) extended March's drop to equals its lowest outturn since February 2015.

Meantime, consumer sentiment lost 0.7 points to 114.2, a 3-month low. Worryingly, within this, buying intentions (minus 36 after minus 28) touched a 7-month low. And to make matters worse, price expectations (minus 33 after minus 30) equalled their weakest mark in more than three years.

In sum, while the modest improvement in overall business sentiment is promising, the good news is tempered by a consumer sector survey that warns of a possible slowdown in household spending. The Italian economic recovery remains fragile.

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.