ROME (Reuters) - Morale among Italian businesses and consumers moved in different directions in December, data showed on Wednesday, giving little clarity on the prospects for the country's fragile economic growth going into the new year.
The surveys by statistics office ISTAT indicated improved sentiment among consumers and manufacturers in the wake of a Dec. 4 referendum on constitutional reform which sank the government of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
However, morale fell sharply in the construction industry and among service providers, producing a decline in overall business confidence.
Italian economic growth rebounded slightly in the third quarter, supported by domestic demand, but is still not expected to exceed 1 percent this year, leaving Italy in its customary position as one of the most sluggish economies in the 19-nation euro zone.
ISTAT's manufacturing confidence index increased to 103.5 in December from an upwardly revised 102.2 in November, to hit its highest level for a year.
However, the composite business morale index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, declined for the second month running to 100.3 from 101.4.
Consumer confidence improved sharply to 111.1 from 108.1 in November, posting its highest level since July.