Eyebrows were raised by many economists as booming Japan unexpectedly cut its output estimate for the final quarter of 2003 amid the nation's fastest growth rate in thirteen years.

The world's second largest developed economy slashed its year-on-year gross domestic product growth from 7% to 6.4%, although local analysts downplayed the significance of this, insisting the economy remains on course for a broad- based and robust recovery.

At the same time, Japan's current-account surplus, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, better than doubled year-on-year in January to ¥1.1 trillion ($9.4bn; £5.4bn; €5.79bn). Exports were up 11.3% on the same period in 2002, way ahead of modest import growth.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff