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Japan's Leading Indicators Are Unchanged, But . . .

The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators for Japan held steady in February at 98.7 (1990=100).

However, as actual data for real operating profits for the fourth quarter of 2004 have become available, large downward revisions have been made to previous months. "As a result, the leading index has declined slightly over the last six months, well below the 1.5% long-term average growth rate," notes the New York-based business research group. "The slight decline in the leading index in recent months suggests that a sluggish rate of economic growth should continue in the near term," it adds.

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