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Italy slips unexpectedly back into recession

Italy's economy, the eurozone's third-largest, has slipped back into recession, defying analysts' expectations of modest growth in the second quarter. Shares on the country's blue-chip index fell sharply at the news.

Italy has unexpectedly fallen back into recession in the second quarter, an indication that

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's reform program

has not yet been able to reinvigorate growth, data showed Wednesday.

Blue-chip shares fell at the news, extending the day's losses on Italy's FTSE MIB index to 2.2 percent after preliminary data on the country's gross domestic product (GDP) showed a 0.2 percent drop. That index has fallen 13.4 percent since highs in June.

GDP contracted 0.2 percent on the quarter, after shrinking 0.1 percent from January to March, the Rome-based statistics office Istat said.

The second consecutive fall in quarterly GDP - the technical definition of a recession - surprised economists who had forecast growth ranging from 0.1 to 0.4 percent in the second quarter.

cjc/nz (Reuters, dpa)

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