Italy: New car sales down 16.9% in January image

Italy’s new car registrations in January fell 16.9 percent to 137,119 units compared to a year ago according to data released by association Centro Studi Promotor Wednesday.

“The negative trend of the second half of last year is continuing and intensifying,” it said in a statement.

Italian business confidence fell in January to the lowest in more than two years as the economy probably entered into a recession under the weight of austerity measures to fight the sovereign debt crisis.

The data is the latest indication that Italy is mired in a recession which is forecast to intensify through 2012, as it grapples with a debt crisis that threatens the whole euro zone.

The decline was due to a dip in production forecasts and a decrease in inventories, though the number of orders improved.

Monti, who took office in November as head of an unelected government of non-politicians, is seeking to show investors he can tame Italy’s 1.9 trillion-euro debt, which is bigger than that of Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland combined.