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Economy in Brief

Land of the Setting Sun? Japan’s Surveys Falter Again…
by Robert Brusca June 8, 2007

Japan’s economy watcher’s survey cycled higher from late 2004 through early 2005. Then it dropped off until picking up to a minor peak in August 2006. From that mini- peak it spread out on a gradual increase until it fell sharply again in May, the figure reported today – a sharp drop.

The employment and future indexes are cycling in concert but with smaller amplitudes.

The Teikoku indexes and NTC MFG survey echo the findings of weakness but the various surveys find weakness in differing magnitudes. See table below.

The far right columns put the recent observations for each index or sub-reading in the context of its five year max or min. This allows us to compared intrinsically different indicators.

Results show that the NTC MFG index is the weakest in the 30th percentile of its range for this period. Next in line comes the economy watcher index and its components with the headline index at 44.4% of its range. The Teikoku indices are the strongest with MFG relatively firm at a range reading of 75% (top 25% of its range) and with retail the relative weakest at 64% of its range. Wholesale services and construction are relatively healthy in the Teikoku scheme. Even so the Teikoku indices are dropping and all sectors dropped again in May. They made their local peak about one year and have been slipping slowly ever since.

Key Japanese Surveys
  Raw readings of each survey Percent of 5Yr range*
  May-07 Apr-07 Mar-07 Feb-07 May-07 Apr-07 Mar-07
Diffusion
Economy Watchers 46.8 49.7 50.8 49.2 44.4% 59.8% 65.6%
Employment 50.7 57.1 56.3 55.9 35.6% 63.1% 59.7%
Future 50.0 51.9 51.3 52.1 52.9% 68.0% 70.6%
NTC MFG 51.4 52.3 -- -- 30.2% 41.4% 43.5%
Econ Trends (Teikoku'/50 neutral/weighted diffusion)              
MFG 45.2 47.0 47.2 46.7 76.2% 85.1% 86.2%
Retail 39.6 41.1 41.1 39.9 64.3% 74.3% 74.3%
Wholesale 42.8 44.3 44.6 43.8 75.6% 83.5% 85.8%
Services 49.1 50.3 49.9 49.4 88.4% 93.6% 92.2%
Construction 37.7 38.4 38.7 38.7 84.4% 89.2% 91.2%
100 is high; Zero is low
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