Italy’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.5 percent last year, beating government forecasts, preliminary official data showed on Monday.

In a so-called flash estimate, the national statistics agency Istat also said that in the fourth quarter of 2021, the economy expanded by 6.4 percent on a yearly basis and by 0.6 percent compared to the previous quarter.

These early estimates may be subject to revision in early March.

In September, Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government had forecast growth of 6 percent for 2021 and Economy Minister Daniele Franco revised the figure upwards to 6.3 percent in a November parliamentary hearing.

Italy suffered a record recession in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with GDP plunging by 8.9 percent. The economy is now expected to return to pre-crisis levels during the first quarter of 2022.

Last week, Franco said the Italian economy — the third largest in the eurozone — could expand by more than 4 percent this year, but added that the enduring pandemic, geopolitical tensions and higher energy prices could drag growth down.

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