Italy expects GDP to bounce back in Q1 after end-of-year slump

ROME, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The Italian government expects the economy to rebound in the first quarter of this year after growth disappointed in the last three months of 2019, Economy minister Roberto Gualtieri said on Friday.

Italy’s economy -- the euro zone’s third largest -- unexpectedly contracted by 0.3% between October and December, following an unrevised 0.1% rise in the third quarter, national statistics bureau ISTAT reported.

Speaking .on the sidelines of the presentation of a OECD report, the minister said that the fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) was affected by a number of external factors including bad weather in November.

The 0.3% contraction in the economy was the steepest decline since the first quarter of 2013. On a year-on-year basis, Italian GDP was flat in the fourth quarter, following an upwardly revised 0.5% rise in the third.

Gualtieri also said it was too early to estimate the impact on the economy of a coronavirus that has so far killed 213 people in China and spread to at least 22 other countries, including Italy, rattling global markets and prompting evacuation plans.

Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Maria Pia Quaglia, editing by James Mackenzie