Morale amongst Italian businesses slipped in December as an increase in COVID-19 infections raised doubts about the strength of economic recovery, but consumer morale edged up slightly, new data has showed.
National statistics institute ISTAT's manufacturing confidence index declined to 115.2 in December from 115.9 the month before, coming in broadly in line with a median forecast of 115.3 in a Reuters survey of eight analysts.
ISTAT's composite business morale index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, fell more steeply to 113.1 in December, compared with November's reading of 114.8.
However, consumer confidence unexpectedly edged up this month to 117.7 from 117.5 in November, beating a median forecast of 116.2 in Reuters' poll.
Consumer sentiment may have been buoyed by more than €7 billion of tax cuts set out government's 2022 budget currently before parliament.
Mario Draghi's government is due to announce measures later on Thursday to tighten coronavirus restrictions over the Christmas period, in response to a recent steady increase in infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
The euro zone's third largest economy contracted by 8.9% last year, its steepest post-war decline in gross domestic product.
Rome officially forecasts a rebound of 6.0% this year, but recent data has been positive and Draghi said on Wednesday that growth will somewhat stronger.
In July, morale amongst Italian businesses and consumers rose to multi-year highs as the government continued to steadily ease coronavirus restrictions.
In May, ISTAT's manufacturing confidence index increased to 110.2 in May, the highest reading for more than three years,