February 27, 2018 / 9:08 AM / in 6 months

Italy business confidence rises ahead of election, consumer morale stable

ROME, (Reuters) - Morale among Italian businesses picked up in February after declining the month before, data showed on Tuesday, as political parties campaigned ahead of an election widely expected to produce a hung parliament.

National statistics institute ISTAT’s manufacturing confidence index rose to 110.6 from 109.9, beating expectations and posting its first increase since October last year.

A Reuters survey of nine analysts had forecast a fall to 109.0.

ISTAT’s composite business morale index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, rose in February to 108.7 from 105.6, returning to the same level seen in December.

Consumer confidence edged up marginally in February to 115.6 from 115.5 the month before, beating the median forecast in Reuters’ survey which pointed to a decline to 114.9.

The outgoing government of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni forecasts economic growth of 1.5 percent in 2018, in line with last year’s rate which was the strongest since 2010.

Italy faces a parliamentary election on Sunday. Despite an improving economy over the last year, the ruling Democratic Party has been falling in opinion polls and is expected to fare badly.

Reporting by Gavin Jones

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