Tankan: Confidence dips at major manufacturers for first decline in a year

The Bank of Japan's latest Tankan survey shows business confidence among major manufacturers weakened in the first quarter of 2024. While the dip was the first in four quarters, the index remained in positive territory.

The survey results released on Monday showed the index for large manufacturers stood at plus 11, or down 2 points from the prior survey released in December.

A positive number indicates that more companies are optimistic about business conditions than those feeling pessimistic.

Sentiment took the biggest hit among car makers with a drop of 15 points to plus 13. That's largely due to some vehicle manufacturers being forced to suspend shipments due to a failure to meet government safety certificate standards. Steel and non-ferrous metal industries also registered declines in business confidence.

It was a different story at large non-manufacturers, which came in with a confidence reading of plus 34, an increase of two points. The gain follows a surge in spending linked to strong inbound tourism.

It's the eighth straight quarterly increase for non-manufacturers and the highest reading since August 1991, or about 33 years.

However, when the bank assessed the sentiment for the next quarter, confidence at large manufacturers dipped another 1 point. The non-manufacturers' index slid 7 points for the same period.

BOJ officials say the decline in forward-looking sentiment reflects the worry among companies about labor shortages and the overall global economy.

The BOJ polled more than 9,000 companies from late February through the end of March for the Tankan survey.