The Italian economy grew 0.7 percent in 2023, slightly less than forecast by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's government, national statistics agency Istat said Tuesday.

Rome had been hoping for gross domestic product (GDP) in the eurozone's third largest economy to increase by 0.8 percent.

Istat's first estimation comes against a backdrop of high interest rates which have weighed on domestic demand, and a recession in Germany, Italy's main trading partner.

GDP increased by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023, compared to the previous three months, according to Istat.

Growth had slowed in the second quarter, with GDP down 0.3 percent, but then picked up again slightly with growth of 0.1 percent in the third quarter.