An index based on a poll of 2,000 households by the Isae Institute fell to 106.1, its lowest level since October, from a revised 109.1 in March. Isae prepared the report in the first two weeks of the month, straddling the April 9-10 election.
The premium, or spread, that investors demand to buy Italy's benchmark 10-year bond rather than the German bond of similar maturity widened to 32 basis points today, the highest in more than 4 years. A basis point is 0.01 percent point.
``Investors and consumers alike are going to be looking for as much clarity on the situation as possible as soon as possible,'' said Antonio Cesarano, an economist at MPS Finance BM in Siena, Italy.
Under Berlusconi, Italy's $1.7 trillion economy slipped into recession twice in two years, and growth is set to lag behind that of the euro region for a fifth year in 2006. Berlusconi managed to draw almost even in the vote by convincing the public that Prodi's plans to stimulate the economy and tame the deficit would require higher taxes.
For those who can read Italian the ISAE survey can be found here.