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Italy Feb industry output rebounds after Jan drop, boosting recovery hopes

[ROME] Italian industrial output rebounded by 0.6 per cent in February after a 0.7 per cent drop the month before, keeping hopes of economic recovery intact after a three year recession, data showed on Monday.

February's rise was marginally above the median forecast of a 0.5 per cent increase in a Reuters survey of 14 analysts, and was the strongest monthly gain since June last year.

Output has risen in three of the last four reported months and in the December to February period it was up 0.4 per cent compared with September to November, ISTAT said.

Industrial production shows a strong correlation with gross domestic product (GDP) in Italy, which has seen GDP shrink for the last three years.

Industrial output has fallen by almost a quarter compared with its 2008 peak before the global financial crisis marked the start of the long economic slump in the euro zone's third largest economy.

February's rise is particularly encouraging because while consumer and business confidence have risen strongly in recent months, so-called "hard" data on output, spending and employment has continued to be patchy.

February's data was supported by a 3.6 per cent jump in output of energy products. Consumer goods were flat from the month before, investment goods rose 1.1 per cent and intermediate goods fell 0.4 per cent.

ISTAT reported that on a work-day adjusted year-on-year basis, output in February was down 0.2 per cent, following a 2.2 per cent fall in January.