Italian services activity growth cools in Dec -PMI

FILE PHOTO: Italians enjoy aperitivo evening drinks in Venice
FILE PHOTO: Italians enjoy aperitivo evening drinks sitting down at a bar as much of the country becomes a 'yellow zone', easing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions allowing bars and restaurants to serve clients at outdoor tables, in Venice, Italy, April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri

January 5, 2022

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s services sector continued to grow in December, but less quickly than in November, reflecting slightly slower gains in total new work, a survey showed on Wednesday.

IHS Markit’s Business Activity Index for services stood at 53.0 in December, down from 55.9 in November but comfortably above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction for an eighth successive month.

The figure was below the median forecast in a Reuters survey of seven analysts which had pointed to a reading of 53.9.

Italy’s service sector took longer to recover from COVID-19 lockdowns than the smaller manufacturing sector, which has seen healthy growth for the last year and recorded its 18th consecutive month of expansion in December.

Factories, unlike many services businesses, remained open during most of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sub-index for new business in the service sector came in at 55.4 in December from 56.3 the month before.

The composite Purchasing Managers’ Index for services and manufacturing remained robust in December at 54.7, down from 57.6 posted in November but its 11th successive month of growth.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi says the Italian economy almost certainly expanded in 2021 by more than the government’s official 6.0% forecast and is predicting growth of 4.7% in 2022.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Catherine Evans)