ROME, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Italy’s manufacturing sector recorded its strongest growth for more than 24 years in November, a survey showed on Wednesday, even as economists warn that economic growth is likely to slow amid concerns over a new coronavirus variant.
The IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for Italian manufacturing rose in November to 62.8 from 61.1 the month before, beating expectations and posting its highest level on record.
November’s reading, which was the 17th consecutive month above the 50 threshold that separates growth from contraction, was well above the median forecast of 61.1 in a Reuters survey of 13 analysts.
Unlike the larger services sector, factories in Italy have been spared the restrictions on business and movement imposed to try to rein in COVID-19 infections.
The new orders sub-index rose to 63.7 from 61.7 in October, posting its highest level since May.
The economic outlook has been clouded recently by an increase in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant, which scientists say may be more resistant to vaccines.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi and other ministers say the Italian economy is likely to expand this year by more than the government’s official 6.0% forecast.
That follows the record 8.9% contraction registered in 2020, when the economy was crippled by coronavirus lockdowns.
(Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Catherine Evans)