Italy's growth strengthened in the first half of the year and prospects for the coming months appear "favourable," the head of the national statistics agency Istat told lawmakers on Tuesday.
"In the first two quarters, the Italian economy posted stronger growth," Istat president Giorgio Alleva told a joint hearing of the Lower House and Senate's budget committees on the update of government's medium-term economic blueprint (DEF) on Tuesday.
"The prospects for growth in the months to come appear favourable," Alleva stated.
Demand for investment goods and equipment lay behind "signals of improvement in the economy," he said.
Alleva said the expectation was for "growth at a higher pace than that observed in the second quarter of the year".
The Italian economy expanded 0.3 percent from April to June, and by 1.5 percent from the same period of 2016, Istat reported on Tuesday. The growth figure is marginally lower than the 0.4 percent growth the agency reported in its national accounts for the second quarter issued on 1 September.
Istat on Tuesday revised up the growth in the first quarter to 0.5 per cent from 0.4 per cent and to 1.3 percent year-on-year from 1.2 per cent previously.
Italy's consumer confidence index rose "significantly" and the business sentiment index also improved in all sectors except services, confirming the positive economic trend of recent months, Istat noted.
The Italian treasury last week lifted its previous growth forecasts and predicted gross domestic product (GDP) would rise by 1.5 percent this year, up from its previous projection of 1.1 percent made in April.
The more optimistic GDP forecast for 2017 reflected better than expected data in the first two quarters and buoyant business sentiment, according to the treasury.
The treasury forecast GDP growth of 1.5 percent next year in its DEF (Economic and Financial Document), up from 1.0 percent previously.
Italian growth continues to lag most other countries in the eurozone. But the brighter economic outlook and voter perceptions of better living standards could help the ruling centre-left Democratic Party ahead of national polls due early next year.
The government's latest forecasts compare with slightly less upbeat GPD growth estimates of 1.5 percent in 2017 and 1.3 percent in 2018 made last month by employers' association Confindustria.
Paris-based think-tank the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in September foresaw Italian growth of 1.4 percent this year and 1.2 percent in 2018.
The OECD's forecast for Italy compares with eurozone GDP growth of 2.1 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2018.