Italian industrial production declined in February as the worsening economic outlook reduced demand for manufactured products. Production dropped 0.2 percent after rising a revised 1.2 percent in the previous month, the Rome-based national statistics office said today. The seasonally and working day adjusted output index dropped back to 97.8 from 98.3 in January.
Year on year (and working day corrected) output was down 0.8% over February 2007)Production of Italian consumer goods fell 2.6 percent from January as the output of durable goods like refrigerators declined 0.6 percent with non-durable goods contracting 2.6 percent. The only gain came in energy related goods, which rose 0.5 percent.
Part of the decline in output may have been caused by the plunge in car production, which fell 24 percent from a year earlier on a non-adjusted basis. Istat did not give car output figures compared with the previous month. Production of all vehicles, including trucks and busses, declined 3.2 percent from a year earlier on a non-adjusted basis.
Italy's new car sales fell for a third straight month in March, down 18.76 percent, leading the car industry to blame weaker consumer confidence in light of an election campaign and expectations of slower economic growth. Sales of Fiat's three brands suffered an even harder fall of 20.6 percent.
For the first quarter as a whole the total number of sales registered with the transport ministry was down 10.01 percent at 663,532. The fall was 10.6 percent when taking into account the two extra working days in March 2007, ANFIA said.
Registrations of new car sales totalled 212,326 in March against 261,370 for the same period last year. Those for cars of the three brands belonging to the Fiat group totalled 65,594 against 82,649 in March 2007. Fiat's share of registrations in what is its home market was 30.89 percent.
Its premium sports car brand Alfa Romeo suffered more than the other two brands because its main Pomigliano d'Arco plant was temporarily shut for refitting. Sales of its cars fell 45.90 percent, while those for Fiat were down 16.41 percent and Lancia fell 25.49 percent.
The International Monetary Fund yesterday cut its forecast for Italian growth this year to 0.3 percent, the slowest pace since 2003. Business confidence has slumped to the lowest level in 2 1/2 years and the economy is set to expand less the European Union for a 13th year in 2008, the EU Commission says.
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Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Italy related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Italy economy charts together with short text updates on a Storify dedicated page Italy - Lost in Stagnation?