ROME (Reuters) - Morale among Italian manufacturers unexpectedly fell for the first time in nine months in January, data showed on Wednesday, as the economy struggles to emerge from a two-year recession.
National statistics institute ISTAT's manufacturing confidence index fell to 97.7 in January, below all forecasts in a Reuters survey of 17 analysts which pointed to a rise to 98.7.
Manufacturing confidence last fell in April 2013.
With expectations for orders and production levels at about the same level as December, and inventory levels falling slightly, the reason for the index decline was mainly the effect of the seasonal adjustment, ISTAT said.
ISTAT reported that its composite index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, rose for the third month running in January to 86.8 from a revised 83.8 (from 83.6 previously) in December, reaching its highest since November 2011.
Morale improved in services and retail, but declined in construction and manufacturing, ISTAT said.
After years of recession and stagnation, the economy is now smaller than it was more than a decade ago and has not grown since the second quarter of 2011.
ISTAT's sister survey on consumer confidence released on Tuesday showed morale rose more expected in January with improved sentiment on personal finances outweighing a decline in confidence over the country's economy.