Survey shows weaker confidence in Japan's economy

TOKYO -- Major Japanese manufacturers are increasingly gloomy due to weakening growth at home and overseas, a quarterly survey by Japan's central bank showed Monday.

The Bank of Japan's "tankan" index for the three months that ended in September was minus 3, a worsening from the previous quarter's minus 1.

Sinking exports due to feeble demand in crisis-stricken Europe and anti-Japanese protests in China have reinforced the gloom among leading companies. The index did not retreat as far as the March reading, however, which was at minus 4.

The central bank recently extended its monetary easing, moving to spur lending and forecasting that growth would remain flat in coming weeks.

The survey showed pessimism over the prospects for both domestic and global demand given weak growth in China, the U.S. and Europe.

Manufacturers anticipate that sentiment will remain negative in coming months, with the index forecast to stay at minus 3, the survey showed. Non-manufacturers likewise predicted a worsening in sentiment, to plus 5 from the current plus 8.

The Bank of Japan surveyed 10,722 companies and about 99 percent responded.

The index is a percentage of the companies with a positive outlook versus those who see unfavorable conditions ahead, so a minus number means there are more pessimistic companies than optimistic ones.