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Italy industrial output contracts as indicators suggest "worsening" economy: ISTAT
Last Updated: 2019-02-09 10:14 | Xinhua
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Italy's industrial output contracted last year and other leading indicators suggested a "worsening" outlook for the nation's economy, ISTAT national statistics institute reported Friday.

Industrial production fell in every quarter in 2018, decreasing the most markedly in the last quarter, ISTAT noted.

Italy's seasonally adjusted industrial production index dropped by 0.8 percent in December 2018 compared with the previous month, by 1.1 percent in the last quarter of 2018 with respect to the previous three months, and by 5.5 percent compared to December 2017, the statistics agency said.

However, on average, industrial production grew moderately by 0.8 percent overall in 2018 compared to 2017 "thanks to a carry-over effect from the positive trend in the preceding year", ISTAT analysts wrote.

All the main economic sectors were in negative territory last year, the institute said, pointing to wood, paper and printing (-13 percent), textiles, apparel, leather, and accessories (-11.1 percent), and rubber, plastics, non-metal manufacturing (-7.9 percent), as well as steel, other metals, and vehicle manufacturing (both -5.5 percent).

The only sector that advanced slightly in December compared to November was intermediate goods by 0.1 percent. However, consumer goods "decreased significantly" by 2.9 percent, followed by energy with -1.5 percent, ISTAT said.

On a yearly basis, ISTAT saw consumer goods down 7.2 percent, followed by intermediate goods down 6.4 percent, energy down 4.4 percent, and capital goods down 3.5 percent.

In its monthly statement on the Italian economy, also out Friday, ISTAT noted that "the deceleration of the world economy has spilled over into Q4 2018, particularly in the industrial sector, which has experienced a broad-based loss of momentum coinciding with a further slowdown in global trade growth".

"The leading indicators experienced a sharp fall, suggesting a worsening of the Italian cyclical position in the coming months," ISTAT said.

At the end of January, ISTAT reported that Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018. That comes after a 0.1 percent contraction in the third quarter, meaning that the country has fallen into recession for the third time in 10 years. In technical terms, a recession is defined by at least two back-to-back quarters with negative economic growth.

"What emerged is that there is a negative trend across almost all sectors," ISTAT researcher Roberta De Santis told Xinhua.

She said this downturn in Italy's economy is due to "conditions in the entire eurozone and the international economy overall, as well the fact there have been slowdowns in European partner countries, such as Germany, that could weigh on the future of the Italian economy".

The researcher also warned of the negative impact to the world trade by the ongoing U.S.-China trade frictions, saying it certainly has caused "a consistent deceleration in world trade volume".

She said that the trade frictions do not affect Italy directly, but "Italy's economy is tightly linked to that of Germany, which in turn has a very close relationship with China in the sectors hardest-hit by tariffs, such as steel and automotive".

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