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Japan fund managers get bearish on Abenomics: Survey

Fund managers have lost faith in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to kick start the Japan's economy, a new survey found.

Only 16 percent considered Abenomics, or Abe's three-pronged plan to revitalize the economy, a success, down from 72 percent in 2015, the AIMA Japan and Eurekahedge survey of investors with Japan mandates found.

While 76 percent of the 2016 respondents said that Abenomics has been a partial success, they weren't particularly rosy on the future. Around 44 percent said Abenomics has little potential ahead, with 9 percent even more pessimistic, saying it has no further potential.

Only around 40 percent expect Japan's economy to grow this year, down from 93 percent last year, with 51 percent this year expecting no growth and 9 percent expecting a contraction, the survey found.

A whopping 90 percent expect the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will step up with more easing this year, with 79 percent expecting the central bank will push interest rates deeper into negative territory and 90 percent expecting additional quantitative easing.

Even then, only 6 percent thought that the BOJ would meet its target of 2 percent inflation by mid-2017 and 28 percent expected that the economy would fall back into deflation.

"The BOJ's pursuit of the 2 percent inflation target is increasingly coming to resemble Tom the cat's unending pursuit of Jerry the mouse," the survey said.

Abenomics was introduced in 2013 in an effort to break Japan's economy out of a decades-long deflationary spiral. The program, which was expected to include three "arrows," began with a first arrow of massive quantitative easing from the BOJ. It was followed by plans for increased government spending. But the third arrow of structural reforms, including immigration and labor changes, has disappointed expectations.

When it comes to the market, the survey found fund managers aren't expecting much action there either: 46 percent expect the Nikkei 225 index will end the year between 15,001 and 17,500.

That compares with the index trading down 3.19 percent at 16,071.32 midday Monday.

On the yen, the survey found managers were divided: 55 percent expect the dollar will be fetching 110 yen or more by the end of the year, while 45 percent expect the dollar-yen below 110.

Around 72 percent of the survey respondents were based in Japan, while 17 percent were in Singapore and 6 percent in the U.S. Most of the respondents' company headquarters were in Japan. Around three-quarters were from the investment advisory and hedge fund sector.

Eurekahedge is an independent data provider on hedge funds globally, while AIMA Japan is a nonprofit association of alternative-investment industry players.

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John Phillips | Digital Editor for CNBC.com
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—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1