It seems Italian industry is experiencing a slight recovery, since Italian industrial production in January rose the most in more than a year, led by demand for consumer goods such as clothing and food. Output was up 1.3 percent on Deecmber 2007, the most since December 2006 and the first increase in five months,and rose a workday-adjusted 0.5 percent from January 2007.
Production of consumer goods rose 4.1 percent from December as the output of durable goods like refrigerators increased 4.3 percent. The output of non-durable goods rose 4 percent. Manufacturing of clothing jumped 5.9 percent from a month earlier, while that of food and drinks rose 4.9 percent.
The latest manufacturing data from Europe - including the PMI data I posted yesterday - point to economic growth in the 15-nation euro region holding up in January and February - even as record oil prices and the euro's strength have damped the outlook. Italy and Spain are struggling more than France and Germany. Consumer optimism and business confidence are at the lowest in two years in Italy and the economy is set to expand less than the European Union average for a 13th year in 2008.
Manufacturing also picked up in France and Germany, Italy's biggest trading partners. Production in Germany, Europe's largest economy, jumped 1.8 percent in January while French output increased 0.5 percent, separate reports showed.