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Economy in Brief

Germany Disappoints Again But Japan Provides Encouragement
by Louise Curley April 6, 2004

The latest German figures on employment and unemployment were disappointing. The unemployment rate rose to 10.4% in March from 10.3% in February. The latest data on employment which are for January, show a continued decline. Some 38.2 million persons were employed, compared with a peak of 39.0 million in early 2001. In spite of the grim reports of employment and unemployment, German resistance to even modest reforms continues. Some 500,000 protesters demonstrated last weekend against Chancellor Schroeder's unpopular "Agenda 2010."

In contrast to Germany, the news from Japan is encouraging. The index of leading indicators rose in February to 77.8% from 50% in January and has been at or above the 50% mark since April of 2003. A reading above 50% signals an expansion in about six months.

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