ROME Feb 8 Italy's economy shrank in the
fourth quarter of last year, probably more steeply than the 0.2
percent decline in gross domestic product posted in the third
quarter, a govermnent source told Reuters on Wednesday.
If the data is confirmed by national statistics office ISTAT
when it issues Q4 preliminary GDP data on Feb. 15, it will mean
Italy is officially in a recession which is widely expected to
continue for most of this year.
"The fourth quarter was negative for Italy's economy,
probably worse than the third," said the source, who asked not
to be named.
Purchasing managers' indexes have indicated falling activity
in both the manufacturing and service sectors in every month
since last August.
The median forecasts in a Reuters survey of around 20
analysts conducted last month pointed to a 0.6 decline in GDP in
both Q4 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.
The survey pointed to a full year GDP contraction of 1.2
percent this year, far worse than the government's official
forecast of -0.4 percent. The Bank of Italy expects a decline of
around 1.5 percent.
Activity at the start of this year has been further slowed
by truckers strikes and unusually icy weather which have
disrupted factory supplies.