The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators for Japan rose one-tenth of a percentage point in December 2004, the most recent month for which data are available. The business research group's leading index for Japan stands at 99.1 (1990=100).
The growth rate of the index of leading indicators during the second half of 2004 was "only slightly" below its long-term growth rate, says the Conference Board. And "the current behavior of the leading index suggests that the [Japanese] economy will continue to grow in the near term, probably more rapidly than the recent sluggish rate, but more slowly than the strong growth of late-2003 and early-2004." Japan's inflation-adjusted GDP grew at an annual rate of just three-tenths of a percent in the fourth quarter of 2004.