Australia's Leading Economic Index Increases

The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators for Australia rose a tenth of a percentage point in December 2004, the most recent month for which data are available. The index now stands at 155.5 (1990=100).

Although December's increase was the fourth consecutive gain in the leading index and its growth rate has improved to an annual rate of 2.5% to 3.5% in recent months, the leading index is not advancing at anything near the 5% to 6% rate for the first six months of 2004, according to the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group.

Nevertheless, the pickup in the leading index for Australia in recent months does suggest somewhat stronger GDP growth "in the near term," says the Conference Board. Australia's inflation-adjusted GDP growth slowed to an annual rate of just 1.2% during the third quarter of 2004.

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