Italy business and consumer morale fall in Jan amid COVID crisis, high energy prices

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ROME, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Morale amongst Italian businesses and consumers fell sharply in January, data showed on Friday, as the coronavirus crisis persists and high energy prices weigh on companies and households.

National statistics institute ISTAT’s manufacturing confidence index fell to 113.9 in January from 115.0 in December.

The data was well below a median forecast of 115.3 in a Reuters survey of 12 analysts.

ISTAT’s composite business morale index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, dropped much more steeply to 105.4 in January, compared with December’s reading of 112.7.

In bleak readings across the board, consumer confidence declined this month to 114.2 from 117.7 in December, well short of a median forecast of 116.5 in Reuters’ poll.

The euro zone’s third largest economy is forecast by the government to grow by 4.7% this year, when gross domestic product is seen returning to pre-pandemic levels, but the Bank of Italy warned last week of growing downside risks to the economic outlook.

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