The index of tertiary industry activity rose 0.3 percent in April from March, the second straight monthly gain, thanks to brisk business in the telecommunications industry, the government said Friday.

The index came to a seasonally adjusted 107.1 against the base of 100 for 1995, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a preliminary report.

Despite the continued improvement, a METI official briefing reporters on the report remained cautious on the state of the sector, saying, “We have yet to see a situation where we can be unreservedly pleased with the result.”

The index for the mobile communications sector increased 25.6 percent in April from March on brisk sales of cell phones. The index for real estate sales and the brokerage sector also soared 22.7 percent thanks to a rise in transactions.

However, severe acute respiratory syndrome and the Iraq war severely affected the transport and tourism industries.

The indexes of the air passenger transport sector dropped 14.2 percent, while the travel agency sector fell 15.8 percent.

The impact of the war and the SARS epidemic becomes more evident when the domestic and overseas sections of the two categories are compared, a METI official said.

The index of domestic air passenger transport declined a mere 3.4 percent in April from a year earlier, but the index for the overseas section plunged 38.2 percent.

Similarly, the index for the domestic travel agency industry suffered a loss of 7.3 percent from a year earlier, but the overseas section index lost 45.1 percent.

The index covering the electricity industry was down 1.2 percent, while the gas sector was 3.1 percent lower due to higher-than-average temperatures, which dampened demand for fuel.

The index of all industrial activity, a supply-side measure of economic growth, dropped 0.5 percent to 101.7 in April, the first drop in two months.

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