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Italy factory activity grows for second month in Aug -PMI

ROME, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Italian manufacturing activity increased for a second month running in August and at its fastest rate for more than two years, a survey showed on Tuesday, raising hopes for a firm economic rebound following the coronavirus lockdown.

The IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 53.1 last month from 51.9 in July, climbing further above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction and posting the highest reading since June 2018.

The median forecast in a Reuters survey of 16 analysts had pointed to a reading of 52.0.

The index slumped to a record low of 31.1 in April, reflecting the closure of most Italian factories in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Plants were allowed to reopen in May, and the index has now climbed for four months running, rising above the key 50 threshold for the last two.

IHS Markit’s sub-index for output at manufacturers rose to 56.2 in August from a previous 54.7, continuing its revival from a low of 11.4 registered in April to post its strongest reading since February 2018.

Rome is officially forecasting a fall in gross domestic product of 8% this year.

Most independent bodies expect a steeper decline, with the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund both forecasting a contraction of more than 10%. (Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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