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Business confidence up among Japan’s big manufacturers

TOKYO (AFP) – Confidence among Japan’s largest manufacturers has risen for a third straight quarter, a key survey showed yesterday.

The Bank of Japan’s Tankan survey showed business confidence rising to a reading of plus 12, up from plus nine three months earlier.

The poll reports the difference between the percentage of firms that are upbeat and those not, with a positive figure meaning more businesses feel optimistic.

The headline figure – the highest since March last year – beat market expectations of plus 10 and came after the first improvement in seven quarters in July and the second one in September.

Optimism also grew among non-manufacturers in the world’s third-largest economy, from plus 27 to plus 30, the highest since November 1991.

“Manufacturing sentiment is being driven by the materials sector, which is benefiting from price revisions and lower crude oil futures,” said senior economist Hiroyuki Ueno at SuMi TRUST.

“Despite recent fluctuations in the exchange rate, the ongoing weakness of the yen continues to benefit exporters.”

A worker on the production line at the Nissan Motor Tochigi plant in Japan. PHOTO: AFP