Japan big manufacturers' mood steady in Q4 but outlook poor

A morning commuter walks past buildings in Tokyo, Japan, on Dec 10, 2015.
A morning commuter walks past buildings in Tokyo, Japan, on Dec 10, 2015. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Confidence at big Japanese manufacturers held steady in the three months to December but is seen worsening ahead, the Bank of Japan's closely watched quarterly "tankan" survey showed on Monday (Dec 14)

The headline index for big manufacturers' sentiment stood at plus 12 in December, unchanged from three months ago, the survey showed. That compared with the median estimate of plus 11 in a Reuters poll of economists.

Big firms plan to raise capital spending by 10.8 per cent in the fiscal year that ends in March, compared with their previous plan for a 10.9 per cent increase and with economists' median estimate of a 10.2 per cent expansion.

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.

Said Hidenobu Tokuda, senior economist, Mizuho Research Institute: "Sentiment was firm in December, but the overall tone is that companies are taking a more cautious stance about the future. This reflects concerns about emerging markets. This is also due to concerns about the domestic economy, because consumer spending has been somewhat disappointing."

"Capex forecasts seem strong, but companies are lowering plans for the first half of the fiscal year and raising spending plans for the second half of the fiscal year, which suggests some companies are delaying investment."

"I think the BOJ could ease in January as wages are not likely to rise fast enough to satisfy the BOJ's price target."