East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) reported 166.6 billion yen in unconsolidated operating profit during the first half of fiscal 1998, down 9.1 percent from the same period last year because of the stagnant economy, officials of the carrier announced Wednesday.

In the midterm earnings report covering the April-September period, JR East posted 963 billion yen in sales, down 1.2 percent from the previous year. Its pretax profit dropped 4 percent to 59 billion yen.

Revenue from its railway transport business dropped 7.8 billion yen from the previous year because the number of tourists and business trips declined under the slackening economy, the officials said. JR East also attributed the unfavorable sales to the decline of sales at shops and restaurants located in its stations.

The carrier’s net profit also dropped 24.6 percent to 24.3 billion yen, the large drop being mainly due to the increase of expenses under the tax system change, the officials said. The carrier expects that the sluggish trend will continue for the second half of the current business year.

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