Italy property sales dive as recession bites

ROME, March 14 Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:56pm GMT

ROME, March 14 (Reuters) - Italian property sales dropped by almost 25 percent last year as the overall economy fell further into recession, with sales in in the last quarter falling at the sharpest rate in eight years, tax authority data showed on Thursday.

The Agenzia delle Entrate, Italy's main tax agency, said its regular quarterly real estate survey showed there were 993,339 registered property sales in 2012, a drop of some 330,000, or 24.8 percent from the previous year.

The falls were registered across Italy and the fall of 29.6 percent in the fourth quarter was the steepest since 2004, it said.

Italy's economy contracted by 2.4 percent last year and is expected to shrink by a further 1 percent in 2013, according to the latest Bank of Italy forecast, with plunging consumer confidence one of the main factors weighing on growth. (Reporting By James Mackenzie; Editing by Toby Chopra)