TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese big manufacturers' business confidence improved in December from three months ago, the Bank of Japan's closely watched quarterly "tankan" survey showed on Friday, in a sign the economy is gathering momentum.
The headline index for big manufacturers' sentiment stood at plus 25 in December, and is expected to fall to plus 19 over the next three months, the tankan showed.
The reading compared with plus 22 seen in the previous survey in September, outpaced the median market forecast of plus 24, and was the highest since December 2006, when it reached the same level.
The tankan's sentiment indexes are derived by subtracting the number of respondents who say conditions are poor from those who say they are good.
A positive reading means optimists outnumber pessimists.