Economically, Down Under Heads Up

The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators for Australia rose half a percentage point to 155.6 (1990=100) in February, the most recent month for which data are available.

It was the fifth consecutive month the index had risen, and "the strength continue to be widespread," says the New York-based business research group. Nevertheless, the current 2% to 3% growth rate of the leading index is a bit below its long-term trend, suggesting, says the Conference Board, that GDP growth "should pick up slightly from the very sluggish pace in the second half of 2004, but not to the rapid growth rate of late 2003."

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