Confidence among major Japanese manufacturers has recovered further after plunging on pandemic woes to its worst level since the global financial crisis, a key survey showed today.
The Bank of Japan's December Tankan business survey - a quarterly poll of about 10,000 companies - showed a reading of -10 among big manufacturers.
This comes as it recorded -27 in the previous survey and -34 in the June survey.
The latest figure compared with a market consensus estimate of -15.
The June figure was the lowest since June 2009 when worldwide financial shocks hammered the planet's third-largest economy.
The short-term business sentiment survey reports the difference between the percentage of firms that are upbeat and those that see conditions as unfavourable.
A negative reading means more companies are pessimistic than optimistic. It is considered to be the broadest indicator of how Japan Inc is faring.
The latest reading comes after the government last week approved more than $700 billion in fresh stimulus to fund projects from anti-coronavirus measures to green tech, Japan's third such package this financial year.
Japan officially exited recession last month after three quarters of contraction.
But the world's third-largest economy now faces a spike in Covid-19 infections, with record numbers of new cases reported in recent weeks.
The latest survey also comes ahead of the Bank of Japan's two-day monetary policy meeting from Thursday, which is widely expected to keep the current monetary easing tools but also likely to extend its special measures in response to Covid-19.
Today's survey also showed that confidence among big non-manufacturers improved to -5 - compared to a -market consensus of -6 - after logging -12 in September.
The latest figures show a steady recovery from the low of -17 in June, but are still well below the March figure of +8.
Japan was struggling with the effects of natural disasters and a hike in consumption tax even before the pandemic crippled the global economy.
Once it hit, there were no mandatory lockdowns in the country, with the government instead asking people to stay at home - a request that was largely heeded.
But that, coupled with a closing of the country's borders, battered tourism and consumer spending, with the hospitality industry hit particularly hard.