Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Big in Japan

According to Bank of Japan's quarterly "tankan" survey for March, confidence at major Japanese manufacturers has fallen to an all-time low, dragged south by an unprecedented drop in global demand and a deep credit crunch.

The closely watched sentiment index for large manufacturers stood at minus 58 - the sixth straight quarter of decline and the worst reading ever. The index's previous lowest result was minus 57, hit in June 1975.

The Bank of Japan surveyed a total of 10,441 companies between Feb. 23 and March 31, of which 98.5 percent responded. The figure represents the percentage of companies saying business conditions are good minus those saying conditions are unfavorable. The lower the number, the greater the pessimism.

The world's second-largest economy, which had relied on overseas demand to drive growth, is in its deepest recession since World War II.

Major exporters including Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Corp. have moved quickly to adjust to the collapse in global demand by reducing shifts, suspending factory lines and slashing thousands of workers. While their aggressive moves have suppressed inventory levels, it's a troubling sign for families losing those jobs.

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