NATIONAL statistical office Istat revealed a significant increase in business and consumer confidence in February. Among Italian consumers, confidence rose to 110.9 points, the highest since June 2002, from 104.4 points in January. For the business community, the growth of confidence varied according to sector, with retail trade improving from 99.4 to 105.3 points while manufacturing was less buoyant, going from 97.6 to 99.1 points. Among the factors believed to have contributed to the higher confidence are the election of a new President, the quantitative easing announced by the EU and a slight improvement of employment statistics.
With some modest improvements being recorded in France and the continuing revival in Spain, the three major problem economies in the EU appear to be heading for a more positive evolution.