英文原文：A gradual recovery
The economic outlook has improved. Real GDP has further increased, mainly driven by domestic demand, despite disappointing investment. Although households remain extremely cautious, private consumption strengthened, supported by the improvement of labour market conditions. Real disposable income rose, benefiting from lower inflation. On top of that, the real estate sector shows signs of recovery, with home prices up again. The number of transactions of residential units increased by more than 5% in the first nine months of 2015. Recent indicators point to further expansion: while exports might lose some momentum, investment is expected to pick up, supported by recently approved tax incentives.
A domestic recovery
In Q3 2015, the Italian economy has further recovered, despite at a slower pace than that recorded in the first half of the year. Real GDP rose by a quarterly 0.2% （following +0.4% in Q1 and +0.3% in Q2）. The annual growth rate reached +0.8%, the highest since the beginning of 2011. The recovery continued to be driven by domestic demand, which, excluding stocks, added 0.2 percentage points to the overall growth, as in the previous two quarters. While both private and public consumption positively contributed to the GDP increase （respectively +0.2 pp and +0.1 pp）, investment subtracted 0.1 pp.
Foreign demand showed signs of weakening. The negative contribution from net exports was 0.4 pp, as imports rose by 0.5% and exports declined by 0.8%. According to trade balance data, Italian firms suffered from worsening economic conditions in the emerging world. Sales stagnated in China and collapsed in Russia, Latin America and OPEC countries.
In Q3 2015, activity in the construction sector further declined, while that in service was virtually stable. Industrial value added increased by 0.4%, the third consecutive positive reading, despite the recovery continued to be uneven at a sectorial level. From January to October, production of transportation equipment rose by almost 20% and that of pharmaceutical products by more than 5%, while in the food and textile sectors activity declined.
The positive momentum of consumption
In Q3 2015, the positive trend in households' consumption was confirmed. Private expenditure rose by 0.4%, the same rate as in Q3. The ninth consecutive increase brought the annual growth rate above 1% for the first time in four years. The rise was mainly bolstered by purchases of durable goods, which recovered more than 10 percentage points since the second half of 2013.
Labour market conditions improved, benefiting from social contribution relief on new open-ended hires and, to a lesser extent, the new rules on individual dismissals introduced by the Jobs Act. The unemployment rate fell to 11.3% in November, from more than 13% in end-2014. Youth unemployment rate declined to 38%, down by more than 5 percentage points in a year. The number of persons in work soared near 22.5 million. Since the worst of the crisis, in the second part of 2013, almost 350 000 new jobs have been created. The growth was entirely due to payroll employment as self- employment contracted.
Despite consumer confidence continued to increase, with the Istat index at the highest level in more than ten years, households remain extremely cautious, increasing consumption slower than disposable income. From January to September, Italians' purchasing power rose by almost 2%, benefiting from lower inflation （+0.1% in 2015）, while the cumulative growth of consumption remained below 1%, while the saving ratio was up to 9.5% from 8.6% in Q2 2015.
Tentative signs of recovery in the real estate market
The real estate also shows signs of recovery. After some ups and downs during a prolonged period of adjustment, 105,000 residential units （new and existing） were sold in Q3 2015, i.e. 10.8% more than in Q3 2014. All in all, in the first nine months of 2015, the number of transactions of residential units increased by 5.3% with respect to the same period a year earlier. Despite this positive trend, the number of transactions remains well below the peak of 866,000 reached in 2006, i.e. during the pre-crisis expansionary period. The increase in residential unit sales was widespread nationwide. Still, it was particularly marked in the North, where sales are up 13% since Q1 2014, versus +10.7% in the Centre and +7% in the South.
For the first time since Q2 2011, home prices recorded a slight quarterly increase （+0.2%） in Q3 2015, the result of a limited fall in the prices of existing homes （-0.1%） and a solid rebound in new ones （+1.4%）. The latter increase is the highest since 2010. In the first nine months of 2015 residential real estate prices are still negatively oriented, falling by 2.9% （compared to -4.6% in the same period of 2014）, and down by about 14% since 2010. According to some international institutions, the current level of home prices to income ratio is slightly below its long run average. This may be seen as an indicator of undervaluation of the market.
The housing sector is key
The slight recovery of the real estate market in Italy follows a general rebound in the Eurozone housing market that has turned the corner after years in the doldrums. Given the weight of the real estate property on the Italian households' real wealth, a strong recovery of the sector would have a positive impact on households' confidence, stimulating their propensity to consume.
According to some data recently released by the Bank of Italy, residential wealth represents about 85% of total Italian households' wealth ; furthermore, the ownership ratio is quite high in Italy, at 67.7%1. This percentage, however, changes dramatically according to the level of income, age, school attainment and the employment status. As for wealthier families, the ownership rate reaches 90%, compared to 50% for those with a median wealth and just 1% for the poorest ones. Only a small percentage of foreign-born households own their homes: about 22%.
The recovery of the real estate market would support the construction sector, one of the most severely hit by the long crisis that has been gripping the Italian economy in the last seven years. The construction sector, in a broad definition, includes about 550,000 firms, more than any other country in Europe: France has about 513,000 construction firms, Spain 321,000 and Germany 274,000. In the first nine months of 2015 the sector accounted for about 4.7% of the total economy's value added; in 2008 it was 6.1%. From Q1 2008 to Q3 2015 the construction sector's value added decreased by 32.1% compared to -8.4% for the overall value added.
According to estimates recently released by the Italian construction firms association （ANCE）, from 2008 to the end of 2015, investment in the construction of new residential units fell by 27.6%, due to an increase for investment in renovation （+19.4%） and a dramatic decrease for those in new buildings （which, according to the ANCE’s estimations, decreased by 61.1%）.
However, tentative signs of an upturn can be highlighted, as the employment trend in the construction sector. After falling for 19 months in a row, the total number of persons employed in this sector rose by 2.5% y/y in Q2 2015; additionally only permanent contract employees increased in Q3 2015. Despite this positive data, the decline in the sector’s overall employment is dramatic. In Q3 2015, construction employment was down by 502,000 people （-25,3%） from Q4 2008.
Investment: still in the doldrums
Business investment continued to be disappointing, despite favourable financial conditions. Although, bank interest rates on loans to non-financial corporations fell below 2%, gross fixed capital formation declined by 0.4% in Q3, after -0.1% in Q2. According to the Bank of Italy's estimates, economic conditions for Italian firms were stable but at historically low levels. From July to September, spending on structures fell to the lowest level in the last twenty years and that on machinery and equipment renewed with contraction, offsetting the Q2 increase.
Recent indicators point to further expansion in the coming quarters, despite greater global risks. In 2016, real GDP is expected to accelerate well above 1%, driven by domestic demand. Private consumption is set to continue rising, as households disposable income will be supported by easier fiscal stance and lower oil prices. While exports might lose some momentum, investment is expected to pick up.