May 2, 2018 / 7:48 AM / 5 months ago

Italy April factory activity growth weakest since Jan 2017 - PMI

ROME, (Reuters) - Growth in Italian manufacturing activity slowed in April to its weakest rate in more than a year, a survey showed on Wednesday, casting some doubt over the country’s near-term economic expansion outlook.

The Markit/ADACI Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) dropped in April to 53.5 from 55.1 in March, still above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction but down 5.5 points from the seven-year high of 59.0 hit in January.

April’s reading was the lowest since January 2017 and was below the consensus forecast in a Reuters survey of analysts which had pointed to 54.4.

Italy has been in political limbo since an inconclusive election on March 4 that produced a hung parliament and saw strong performances by anti-establishment and far-right parties at the expense of their mainstream rivals.

The subindex for new orders at manufacturers dropped in April to 52.2 from 55.4, Markit said, the lowest level since October 2016.

Most other sub-indexes, including output and employment, also weakened, and export orders posted their lowest reading since November 2016.

The outgoing government of caretaker 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.

Writing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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