Japan big manufacturers' mood improves in first quarter: government

TOKYO Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:57pm EDT

A man produces machine parts inside a factory in Tokyo August 12, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

A man produces machine parts inside a factory in Tokyo August 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuya Shino

TOKYO (Reuters) - Big Japanese manufacturers grew more optimistic about business conditions in January-March, a government survey showed on Wednesday, a sign that rising demand before a sales tax hike in April is driving business activity.

The business survey index (BSI) of sentiment at large manufacturers stood at plus 12.5 in January-March, compared with plus 9.7 in the previous quarter, according to the joint survey by the Ministry of Finance and the Economic and Social Research Institute, an arm of the Cabinet Office.

The BSI measures the percentage of firms that expect the business environment to improve from the previous quarter minus the percentage that expect it to worsen.

The big manufacturers' sentiment index is seen worsening to minus 9.4 in April-June after the planned sales tax hike kicks in, the survey showed. The previous survey had forecast the April-June index at minus 4.6.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Dominic Lau and Edmund Klamann)

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