Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 11:32 UK

Italian economy shrinks by 0.5%

Fiat cars in Turin
The figures have raised hopes that the recession may be easing

Italy's economy shrank by 0.5% in the second quarter of 2009, a smaller contraction than expected, official figures have shown.

This is Italy's fifth consecutive quarterly fall in GDP, and compares with a record 2.7% contraction in the first quarter of the year.

The figures have raised hopes that the recession in Italy, the third-largest economy in the eurozone, may be easing.

Compared with the same quarter a year ago, GDP was down 6%.

Italy is the first eurozone country to publish second-quarter data, with figures for the rest of the eurozone expected in the coming weeks.

At the same time, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development said that there were strong signals of improvement in the economic outlook of OECD economies. It pointed to stronger recovery signals in Italy and France.

"Italy was a bit behind the rest of the eurozone, so if Italy is doing better than expected, that is a good sign for the bloc as a whole," said Gilles Moec of Deutsche Bank.

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