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The mixture of light and shadow has never been more in evidence than during this latest period for domestic non-ferrous metal operators. Sentiment is mixed: LME fluctuations do not favour planning and the general market situation reflects an unexpected slowdown in activity. In the second quarter of 2023, GDP decreased by 0.4% from the previous quarter, according to Istat, and trend growth has been revised slightly downwards to 0.3% compared to the second quarter of 2022 versus 0.4% at the beginning of September.

The acquired change in GDP for 2023 is equal to +0.7%; to this should be added that, in the second quarter of 2023, consumers’ disposable income decreased 0.1% from the previous quarter while consumption grew 0.2%. The propensity to save, which has already been below pre-COVID levels for several quarters, is estimated at 6.3% - down 0.4 percentage points compared to the previous quarter. Despite prices remaining largely stable, families’ purchasing power declined 0.2% when compared to the previous quarter.

Employment, however, recorded a peak in August with the rate rising to 61.5% with 23.593 million people in a job. The unemployment rate has fallen to 7.3% - its lowest level for over 14 years.

Difficulties persist, nevertheless, for micro and small businesses, which have seen the post-pandemic recovery fade owing to the high cost of living and the increase in energy prices.