Taiwan's Economic Indicator Hits a Historic Low

Taiwan's composite indicator for April plunged to an historic low as the island's economy continued to flag, the chief economic planning agency said Monday.

The composite indicator measuring domestic economic performance for the month shed one point to nine points in April, hitting the lowest level since the indicator was introduced in 1984, said the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD).

Taiwan's economic growth has sunk further as the April composite index came in at the "blue light" level for the fifth consecutive month, the CEPD said.

The CEPD uses a five-colour rating system to measure local economic performance. A blue light indicates recession.

The outlook for Taiwan's economy remained bleak since there were no signs of recovery in the index of leading indicators used to gauge economic activity for the next three to six months, the CEPD added.

"We have been eager to identify such signs but there is just no reason for optimism in the foreseeable future," CEPD economic research director HuChung-ying said.

The April leading economic indicator hit a 15-year low of 93.3 points, down0.5 percent from March.

Of the seven leading indicators, six were lower in April than a month earlier, the CEPD said.

These were for narrow money supply, stock prices, exports, manufacturing orders, average monthly working hours in the manufacturing sector and wholesale prices, the CEPD said.

Housing start applications rose month-on-month, the CEPD said.

A survey conducted by the CEPD in April showed 15 percent of manufacturers expected the economy to improve over the next three months, unchanged from a month earlier, while 30 percent held a negative view, up from a revised 25percent in March.

It said 55 percent of manufacturers expected the economy to maintain its current direction, down from a revised 60 percent in March.

Last week, Taiwan marked down its 2001 economic growth forecast to 4.02percent after announcing first-quarter growth of 1.06 percent -- the lowest in 26 years -- as the global slowdown took its toll on the island.

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