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Pressure on Renzi grows after disappointing economic data show Italy slips into recession

Italy Economy-1.jpg

A man watches a stock exchange board monitor outside a bank, in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. Pressure is building on Premier Matteo Renzi to push through reforms to restart Italy's economy after the national statistics agency reported that the economy had slipped back into recession. The ISTAT statistic agency on Wednesday estimated that the Italian economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the second quarter, the second straight quarter of decline. Analyst surveys had forecast slight growth. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) (The Associated Press)

Official figures show that Italy has slipped back into recession, piling pressure on Premier Matteo Renzi to push through reforms to kick-start Italy's economy.

The ISTAT national statistics agency estimated Wednesday that the Italian economy contracted by a quarterly rate of 0.2 percent in the second quarter. That was the second straight decline, the traditional measure for recession.

The decline was a surprise. Analyst surveys had forecast slight growth.

Intesa Sanpaolo analyst Luca Mezzomo said the figures were "shocking" while Teneo Intelligence analyst Wolfango Piccoli said Renzi "lacks an original and coherent plan for the economy."

The figures proved a drag on the Milan Stock Exchange, which ended 2.7 percent lower.

Renzi has been struggling to push through political reforms and is facing criticism over his proposals for economic recovery.