Italy\'s business confidence index edged up by 0.6 points in October to 76.6 points after a slight fall in September, the Italian national statistics office Istat said Friday. The composite index was fed by improving sentiment in the service and retail sectors, which more than offset a sharp drop in the construction sector. According to recent Istat data, pessimism among recession-hit Italian households is at its highest level since 1996. Confidence in the manufacturing sector, a key sector in Italy\'s economy,declined in October, suggesting that the country might take longer than expected to emerge from recession. Italy fell into recession in the final quarter of 2011 as the global slowdown worsened the effects of flagging productivity and demand was hit by the government\'s tax increases and spending cuts to trim the eurozone\'s second-biggest debt.