Confidence dip hits Italy again as 2013 rolls in

 
Ben Southwood
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ITALIAN consumer confidence fell back to an all-time record low as 2013 began, according to official data out yesterday.

The headline indicator dropped to 84.6 in January, from 85.7 in December, according to official data from Istat, further below the 100 level that corresponds to the average sentiment recorded during 2005, hitting the lowest level ever seen on the 17-year old index.

“Despite the easing in financial market tensions and the prospects of an election, the underlying weakness of the Italian economy was again underscored by another sharp fall in consumer confidence,” said Societe Generale’s James Nixon.

Nixon said the biggest pressure was on family budgets, going on to forecast that disposable incomes were down around five per cent over the year to the fourth quarter of 2012.

This came after French jobless claims steadied, climbing only 300 in a month – though this still brought unemployment on this measure to a 15-year high of 3.133m. And despite President Francois Hollande’s promise to bring joblessness down, official statistics agency Insee forecasts it will continue to rise during 2013, reaching close to 11 per cent.