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ECONOMY

Surprise rise in Italy’s industrial output

Italy's industrial production ended three months of decline in May, official data showed on Wednesday, but the news will offer little cheer after a sovereign rating downgrade and a growth forecast cut.

Surprise rise in Italy's industrial output
The positive news comes a day after Standard & Poor's downgraded Italy to BBB. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Output inched up by 0.1 percent from the previous months, after falling by 0.3 percent in April, 0.8 percent in March and 0.8 percent in February. 

Calculated on a 12-month comparison, however, industrial production was still down by 4.2 percent – the 21st consecutive negative result.

The best performing sectors over the 12-month period were computers and electronic goods, pharmaceuticals and the food and drinks industry, while energy products and consumer goods were sharply down. 

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's on Tuesday downgraded Italy's rating by one notch to BBB on worries over its ability to resist the effects of a two-year recession and warned the public deficit could go higher than expected.

Stocks in Milan dipped on Wednesday, with the main index down 0.76 percent.

The International Monetary Fund last week cut its economic forecast for Italy, saying it expected the economy to shrink by 1.8 percent this year.

For 2014, however, the IMF increased its forecast to 0.7-percent growth.

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MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

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