Italian consumer confidence unexpectedly rose as two months of political gridlock that left the country without a new government amid the longest recession in more than two decades neared an end.
The confidence index increased in April to 86.3 from a revised 85.3 in March, the Italian statistics office Istat said in Rome today. Economists had forecast a drop to 85, according to the median of 13 projections in a Bloomberg News survey.
Italy’s divided Parliament needed six rounds of voting for a new president before the divisions forced the reelection of Giorgio Napolitano, 87. He will now lead another round of talks starting today to try to end the political impasse after inconclusive elections in February.
Without a working government, Italy is struggling to respond to the recession after eight quarters of economic contraction. The region’s third-biggest economy will shrink 1.3 percent this year, according to a report earlier this month by Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government that has managed the country on a caretaker basis since the vote.
Monti’s austerity policies, including higher taxes and spending cuts, pushed Italy deeper into recession. Italian companies are facing shrinking domestic demand after joblessness reached 11.6 in February, nearing the highest in more than two decades.
Istat originally reported a consumer confidence index at 85.2 in March.
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