Italy factory activity posts strongest gain on record in April

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Italian manufacturing activity grew at its fastest rate on record in April as it expanded for the 10th month running, a survey showed on Monday, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 60.7, rising from 59.8 in March and moving further above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

April’s reading exactly matched the median forecast in a Reuters survey of six analysts.

The new orders sub-index climbed to 61.8 in April from 61.3 the month before.

Unlike the larger services sector, manufacturing in Italy has held up well in recent months, with factories spared the restrictions on business and movement imposed to try to rein in COVID-19 infections.

The Italian economy contracted by 0.4% in the first quarter from the previous three months, preliminary data showed on Friday, with manufacturing growing and services declining.

That followed a 1.8% fall in gross domestic product in the last quarter of 2020.

Over the whole of last year GDP fell by 8.9%, Italy’s steepest post-war recession. Mario Draghi’s national unity government forecasts a partial rebound of 4.5% this year.