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Graphic - Italian industry started second quarter in the red

By Jeremy Gaunt
A worker checks a metal furnace before welding it in a factory in Gravellona Lomellina, 45km (27 miles) southwest of Milan, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

By Jeremy Gaunt

LONDON (Reuters) - Data on Friday confirmed Italian industry entered the second quarter on a down note with contractions in sales and orders to go along with an earlier production slide.

It stood in sharp contrast to the general improvement across the euro zone.

New orders contracted 0.7 percent in April, a better month-on-month showing from minus 4.3 percent in March, but still in the red. Sales slid to minus 0.5 percent from a 0.4 percent increase.

Both numbers gelled with earlier industrial production data, which showed a 0.4 percent contraction in April compared with a 0.4 percent rise in March.

The International Monetary Fund said of Italy this month: "Weak productivity and low aggregate investment remain key challenges for faster growth, held back by structural weaknesses, high public debt, and impaired bank balance sheets."

(Writing and graphic by Jeremy Gaunt; Editing by Toby Davis)