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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 12:07 GMT
Italy posts robust growth figure
Italian Industry Minister Antonio Marzano
Antonio Marzano: Growth warning
Italy has bucked the slowdown trend which has seen most EU countries report decreasing economic growth.

The Italian economy grew by 0.4% in the last three months of 2002, compared with 0.3% expansion the quarter before, official statistics have confirmed.

The rise in output came as the three larger European economies - Germany, France and the UK - reported slowing activity.

The German economy came to a standstill over the quarter.

Greece saw its economy contract by 0.3%, after enjoying 1.3% expansion in the July to September period.

Slowdown ahead?

Italy's official statistics agency, Istat, credited the rise in the country's economic output to healthy spending on fixed investments.

European growth rates
0.7%: Finland
0.4%: UK, Italy
0.3%: Spain
0.2%: France, Belgium
0.1%: Netherlands
0.0%: Germany, Denmark
-0.3%: Greece

Data: last quarter 2002

But many observers have doubted Italy will be able to maintain strong growth.

Italian Industry Minister Antonio Marzano has said that the government is poised to lower its forecast for growth for this year from the current 2.3% estimate.

The International Monetary Fund expects growth of 1.3%.

Other reports have identified weakness in Italy's important manufacturing sector.

Iconic carmaker Fiat two weeks ago reported a 4.26bn euro (2.9bn; $4.6bn) net loss for 2002.

On an annual basis, Italy's economy grew by 1.0% during the October to December period, Monday's data showed.




SEE ALSO:
Fiat reveals record loss
28 Feb 03 |  Business
German economy at a standstill
26 Feb 03 |  Business
G7 prepares for the worst
22 Feb 03 |  Business
Italy offers tax and spending cuts
30 Sep 02 |  Business


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