Germany (March 2004)
German business confidence slipped for the second consecutive month in March, undermining hopes of an economic recovery.
    The closely watched Ifo business sentiment index stood at 95.4, down from 96.4 a month earlier. In February, a decline in the confidence barometer ended nine straight months of improvement.
    March saw the current conditions subindex slip from 92.6 to 92.1, the first downturn in six months. The gauge of future expectations, meanwhile, sank from 100.3 in February to 98.9.

Japan (February 2004)
Japan's long-suffering economy shows further signs of an upturn after retail sales jumped 0.9% year-on-year in February, the second consecutive monthly rise.
    On a seasonally adjusted basis (which excludes the effects of the leap year on February's results), sales increased 1.7% last month from January.
    The improvement in domestic consumption points to a broadening of Japan's recovery, which had previously been limited to exports and business investment.

USA (February/March 2004)
US consumers grew more cautious last month, as consumer spending growth failed to match wage rises.
    According to latest data from the Commerce Department, Americans raised their expenditure by 0.2% in February compared with the previous month, despite a 0.4% increase in personal income.
    That said, the consumer confidence index compiled by the University of Michigan rose to 95.8 in March from 94.4 the month before.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff