ROME - Morale amongst Italian businesses and consumers jumped in June, data showed on Friday, as the government continued to steadily ease coronavirus restrictions.
National statistics institute ISTAT's manufacturing confidence index increased to 114.8 in June from an upwardly revised 110.9 in May.
The data was above a median forecast of 112.0 in a Reuters survey of 13 analysts and was the highest reading for more than three years.
ISTAT's composite business morale index, combining surveys of the manufacturing, retail, construction and services sectors, came in at 112.8 in June, compared with May's reading of 107.3, also posting a multi-year high.
Consumer confidence surged this month to 115.1 from 110.6 in May, easily beating a median forecast of 112.0 in Reuters' poll.
More than 127,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Italy since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second highest toll in Europe and the eighth highest in the world.
However, Mario Draghi's government has been progressively easing restrictions on business and movement since April, in response to a decline in infection rates.
This week the government announced the end of a requirement for mandatory mask wearing outside, one of the last remaining restrictions.
Morale may also have been buoyed in June by the prospect of billions of euros of European Union funds to help Italy's economy.
On Tuesday the European Commission formally approved Italy's Recovery Plan of reforms and investments, a necessary step to unlock the funds.
The euro zone's third largest economy contracted by 8.9% last year, its steepest post-war decline in gross domestic product.
Rome's official forecast is for a rebound of 4.5% this year, but the government has recently said growth of close to 5% now looks possible.
((Reporting by Gavin Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org))