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Retail sales in Italy unexpectedly fell in January compared to the same period a year ago.

Sales in Italy’s retail sector were up 1.4 per cent in January compared to December on a seasonally adjusted basis, Italian stats agency Istat said – higher than analyst expectations of a 0.2 per cent rise.

But January sales dipped unexpectedly compared to January 2016, falling 0.1 per cent against expectations of a 0.8 per cent rise.

The figures come after a disappointing reading in December, when the holiday season failed to provide the widely expected boost to Italy’s retail sector as sales fell 0.5 per cent, confounding expectations of a 0.2 per cent rise compared with the previous month.

Figures earlier this week showed that Italian industrial production contracted at its fastest pace since 2011, reversing a steady three-month run of gains in the bloc’s third largest economy.

Italy notched up its best annual economic growth since 2010 last year, with annual GDP growth at 0.9 per cent in 2016 from 0.73 per cent in 2015.

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