Tue, Jun 28, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Indicators show economy cooling

AFP , TAIPEI

The nation's economy marked time last month, continuing in a slower phase of growth for a third month, but leading indicators showed the economy may have levelled off, official figures showed yesterday.

The reading last month came in at "yellow-blue light" which indicates a slowdown in the economy, the same as in April and March, said the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD).

The CEPD uses a five-level spectrum to gauge domestic economic health, with blue indicating recession, yellow-blue a slowdown, green steady growth, yellow-red a slightly overheating market and red an absolute overheating.

However, the index of leading indicators for last month rose 0.8 percent from April, when it fell by a revised 2.1 percent month-on-month. The original reading for April was a 1.5 percent month-on-month decline.

The council said four of the seven leading indicators for last month made positive contributions, including year-on-year growth in the average weighted index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange, a month-on-month increase in monthly working hours in the manufacturing sector and an increase in housing start approvals in area terms.

A survey of manufacturers for last month showed that 17 percent of respondents expected the economy to improve over the next three months, up from a revised 14 percent a month earlier; while 17 percent held negative views, down from a revised 19 percent in the preceding month, it said.

It said 66 percent of manufacturers expect the economy to maintain its current direction, down from a revised 67 percent in April.

"It remains too early to conclude that the index of leading indicators for May has decisively reversed a previous trend of declines," said CEPD section chief Jan Fang-guan (詹方冠).

"It is clear, however, that the tallies were indeed showing signs of stability rather than steady falls," he said.

The upturn in last month's index might prove an early signal of the economy heading for a recovery in the second half, the council said.

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