Rome, July 17 (IANS) Italy’s public debt hit a record high in May despite Rome’s recent efforts to ease the overstretched finances, showed a central bank report.
The national debt stood at $2,405 billion in May, up from $2,385 billion a month earlier, according to the report released Monday.
Also Monday, the International Monetary Fund predicted a negative growth of 1.9 percent for the recession-hit Italian economy in 2012, reported Xinhua.
Meanwhile, a report by Promotor, an automotive research center, showed gasoline and diesel-fuel consumption fell by a combined average of 9.7 percent in the first half of the year, the biggest drop since 1955, when the center started to collect data.
Promotor blamed the sluggish economy for the shrinking consumption, but noted that higher prices pushed total spending on gasoline and diesel up by 8.8 percent over the period.
Amid the gloomy picture, one positive figure was trade surplus in May, which was up $847 million on European countries and $387 million on non-European ones, according to the national statistics institute of Istat.
The surplus of $3.1 billion recorded during the first five months also marked a big improvement from the $22.3 billion deficit registered in the same period last year, the agency said.
-Indo-Asian News Service