Business confidence rises in Italy despite dip in consumer sentiment levels

Businesses in Italy were more confident about the future in June than a month earlier although consumer confidence declined over the same period, the Italian government’s statistics body reported Friday.

Italy’s national statistics agency (ISTAT) said that the business confidence index for June rose to 113.6 points, up from 111.0 points in May. It was the second consecutive month that the index rose, reaching its highest level so far this year.

However, the survey of consumer sentiment slipped to 98.3 in June, from 102.7 the previous month.

Both indicators work from a baseline of 100 points from 2010, meaning consumer confidence in Italy is now lower than it was during the baseline year.

ISTAT said the decline in consumer sentiment was widespread, with confidence in the overall economy hit hardest, declining dramatically to 93.9 points compared to 103.6 points in May.

Consumer confidence regarding personal issues declined to 99.8 points, compared to 102.4 points previously. However, faith in the future slipped more modestly, falling to 98.8 points from 99.8 points previously.

Meanwhile, companies’ confidence in the future improved in all sectors, with the manufacturing sector seeing an increase to 110.0 points compared to 109.4 previously, and construction to 159.7 points, up from 158.7.

Confidence in the services sector grew to 109.1 points from 103.8, and in retail sales to 107.2 from 105.8.

Businesses and consumer confidence levels are considered key indicators in helping guide government economic policy, and strategies for private companies.