Rome, September 13 - Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said Friday that he still expected Italy to pull out of its longest recession in over two decades by the end of this year. Data released Thursday showed industrial production in Italy endured a surprise drop of 1.1% in July compared to June, denting hopes the downturn was coming to a close. But Saccomanni said he remained optimistic Italy was on the path towards recovery. "I don't know of anything to change my forecast (that the recession will end in the third or fourth quarter of 2013)," said Saccomanni. The drop in industrial-production data was a disappointment to analysts as it came after two consecutive month-on-month rises in production that had been seen as evidence Italy was pulling out of the downturn. Furthermore, the drop was the biggest month-on-month fall since June 2012. Industrial production was 4.3% lower in July than in the same month in 2012, the 23rd consecutive year-on-year drop, national statistics institute Istat said.