ROME: Consumer confidence levels increased in Italy in July, despite the considerable pressure on household spending resulting from the financial crisis.

The regular barometer of popular sentiment produced by ISTAT, the government agency, hit 86.5 points in July, an improvement from 85.4 points in June.

Upon assessing their personal circumstances, the panel returned a score of 68.6 points for this month, a figure also 8.3 points greater than for the previous month.

By contrast, ratings for the Italian economy as a whole stood at -139 points, a reading which has stayed largely consistent since May.

More positively, perceptions on this metric softened when looking to the future, on -66 points, versus the -91 points secured in June.

In appraising their current household situation, the total delivered by the sampleĀ fell by two points to -18 points. The forward-facing index in this area was static on -41 points.

Turning to the likelihood of making big-ticket purchases, contributors logged -104 points, off by 11 points from June, and trailing March by 20 points.

Italy has experienced four periods of recession since 2001, and its government is in the midst of implementing a range of austerity measures aimed at saving $24bn.

The country's economy contracted by slightly more than 0.5% over the three months to June, the Bank of Italy reported, due to slow domestic demand and the negative impact of public sector cutbacks. Moreover, the organisation suggested the recession was unlikely to end before early 2013.

Similarly, Confindustria, the trade body, recently predicted the Italian economy would shrink by 2.4% in 2012 and 0.3% in 2013. Unemployment, now standing at over 10%, is also set to rise further.

Data sourced from ISTAT/Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff