Italian confidence drops back as Germany’s industrial orders fall

Ben Southwood
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ITALIAN consumer confidence fell further in March, figures showed yesterday, as part of a swathe of gloomy releases from the Eurozone.

Morale dropped among Italian shoppers this month, with official body Istat’s confidence climate index sliding from 86 to 85.2, reversing the gains made between January and February. One hundred corresponds to the average reading for 2005.

The economic climate sub-index crashed from February’s 72.7 to 68.8 in March, Istat said, driving most of the renewed weakness.

And separate figures from Istat, showing the value of trade between Italy and non-EU countries, crashed between January and February, with exports down 5.7 per cent, and imports falling by 3.4 per cent. Over the long term the numbers suggested a sustained slump in demand between 2012 and 2013, with Italians buying 12.4 per cent less of foreign goods and services this February than they did a year before.

Over the same period exports destined outside the EU grew 2.1 per cent, pushing the bloc’s third economy from a €1.5bn trade deficit to a €704m trade surplus, Istat said.

Meanwhile, figures from German official statistical body Destatis, also put out yesterday, showed a dive in the Eurozone powerhouse economy’s construction industry.

The value of orders in the building industry fell 1.2 per cent in January, Destatis said, compared to a year before. However, firms were supporting 10,000 more staff, the research showed, with a total of 714,000 employed in the industry.

And the equivalent body for Spain, Ine, said that the pace of increase in industrial prices was trending down in February, in another release yesterday.

Industrial prices were 2.1 per cent higher last month than a year before, down from 2.6 per cent annual inflation in January, as part of an unbroken set of falls since industrial inflation touched 4.6 per cent in August.