Italian industrial production contracted for a second month in February as the country’s fourth recession since 2001 and government austerity measures weighed on demand for manufactured goods.
Output dropped 0.7 percent from January, when it declined a revised 2.6 percent, national statistics office Istat said today in Rome. The February rate matched the median forecast of 10 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Production fell 6.8 percent from a year earlier on a workday-adjusted basis.
Mario Monti, the unelected premier who took over after Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation in November, has pushed through 20 billion euros ($26.3 billion) in spending cuts and tax increases as he tries to eliminate the budget deficit next year. He followed up with reforms aimed at revamping the economy to spur future growth, though the austerity measures helped tip Italy into a recession in the fourth quarter.
Italian economic growth has trailed the euro-region average for more than a decade and the European Commission forecasts a contraction of 1.3 percent this year.
Confindustria, the country’s employer’s lobby, estimated today that industrial output contracted 2.3 percent in the first quarter, about the same as the 2.4 percent decline in the final three months of last year.
Fiat SpA, Italy’s biggest manufacturer, has frozen additional European investments and postponed the release of new models in the region, where Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne doesn’t foresee an industry-wide recovery until next year at the earliest. Fiat’s Italian sales fell 36 percent in March and Marchionne said he expects Italian car sales to end the year at the lowest level since 1985.
Istat originally reported a decline of 2.5 percent for industrial production in January.
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