Rome, October 26 - Confidence among Italian companies edged up in October to 76.6 points from 76.0 in September, when it fell slightly, Istat said Friday. The market-services and retail sectors fed the gain while manufacturing and construction confidence was down, the statistics agency said. Pessimism among recession-hit Italian households is at its highest level since 1996, Istat said on Wednesday. Italy entered a recession in the last 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. The government, led by technocrat Mario Monti who has boosted Italy's credibility since taking over from Silvio Berlusconi with bond spreads at 573 points almost a year ago, last month revised its GDP forecast to a 2.4% loss this year, twice its previous prediction.