ByJohn S. McClenahen For the third consecutive month, the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators for South Korea rose in October, the most recent month for which data exist. The leading index now stands at 122.3 (1990=100), up 0.1% from September. Revised data show the index also edged up 0.1% in August and September. "While the slightly positive growth in the leading index over the last three months is an improvement from a decline in the second quarter, the leading index is still weak compared to the very rapid growth through the first quarter of 2004," says the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group. "The current behavior of the leading index . . . suggests that [a] sluggish rate of economic growth is likely to persist in the near term."