Japan business confidence unchanged this quarter: BoJ

TOKYO (AFP) – Confidence among Japan’s biggest manufacturers was unchanged this quarter after slipping for three consecutive surveys, central bank data showed yesterday.

The Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) Tankan report – a quarterly survey of about 10,000 companies – showed a reading of 19 among major manufacturers in its December survey.

The reading was unchanged from the previous quarter, when corporate confidence was down for the third time in a row.

Economists say the impact of major earthquakes and typhoons that affected Japan’s regional economies this year has receded, but worries over a US-China trade dispute weighed on corporate confidence.

“This cautious sentiment among big manufacturers is expected to continue for now,” Koichi Ishida, an economist at the Japan Research Institute, told AFP.

Shoppers wait at the entrance before a clothing chain store opens for business in Tokyo. – AFP

The index for non-manufacturers recovered, rising to 24 from 22 in the previous quarter.

The Tankan report, the broadest indicator of how Japan Inc is faring, marks the difference between the percentage of firms that are upbeat and those that see conditions as unfavourable.

The survey came after Japan’s economy shrank twice as much as initially thought in the three months to September, with natural disasters slashing investment.

Japan was hit this summer by massive flooding in western regions due to torrential rain, a typhoon that inundated a major international airport, and an earthquake in the north that disrupted supply lines.

Economists argue the country is on a recovery path on the back of a global economic upturn, with investments linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics also giving the economy a shot in the arm.