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Economy in Brief

Japanese Consumer Confidence Rises Sharply 
by Louise Curley April 27, 2004

Consumer confidence in Japan, as reported by the Economic and Social Research Institute, rose to 42.5% in the first quarter of this year, the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2000.

All of the components of the total index, except for prices, rose sharply in the first quarter and were well above the levels of the first quarter of 2003. The sharpest quarter-to-quarter rise took place in consumers' appraisal of the job outlook over the next six months. This component was up 7.69% in the quarter and 66.67% above the first quarter of 2003.

Even the price index that showed a decline is a positive indicator for Japan. A price diffusion index below 50% and going down means an expectation of a general upward trend in prices at a faster rate. Any sign of rising prices in Japan is a welcome sign in view of the deflation that has plagued the country over the past several years.

Japan:  Diffusion Indexes of Consumer Sentiment % Q1 O4 Q4 O3 Q1 O3 Q/Q % Y/Y %  2003 2002 2001
Consumer Sentiment 42.5 40.6 36.2 4.68 17.40 38.4 38.8 38.7
   Standard of living 42.8 40.2 36.9 6.47 15.99 38.8 39.0 39.4
   Change in income  39.9 38.0 35.6 5.00 12.08 36.8 37.4 38.7
   Job prospects 42.0 39.0 25.2 7.69 66.67 31.7 27.7 25.2
   Prices 41.0 41.2 42.0 -0.49 -2.38 41.4 46.3 47.5
   Timing and willingness to buy durable goods 47.2 45.7 41.6 3.28 13.46 43.6 43.8 42.6
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