* Big manufacturers' sentiment DI -8 vs forecast -7
* Service-sector sentiment DI +6 vs forecast +8
* Manufacturers expect improvements 3 months ahead
* BOJ likely to ease at Kuroda's first rate review
By Leika Kihara and Kaori Kaneko
TOKYO, April 1 Japanese business sentiment
improved in the first three months of 2013, a central bank
survey showed on Monday, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's
aggressive monetary and fiscal policy prescriptions helped to
weaken the yen and bolster share prices.
The survey comes ahead of the Bank of Japan's first
policy-setting meeting under new Governor Haruhiko Kuroda this
week, when the board is set to expand monetary stimulus and
debate an overhaul of its policy framework.
Big manufacturers' mood improved after two straight quarters
of deterioration, with the headline sentiment index rising 4
points to minus 8, the BOJ's closely watched tankan quarterly
survey showed. That was roughly in line with a median market
forecast of minus 7.
The manufacturers expect business conditions to improve in
the three months ahead with an index gauging the outlook at
minus 1, signalling that prospects for the world's third-largest
economy were turning up.
The tankan report, a key touchstone for BOJ policymakers,
underscores the view that Japan's economy is gradually
recovering from last year's recession and headed for a moderate
recovery driven in part by a pickup in global demand.
Abe's ambitious push for big stimulus spending and monetary
easing by the central bank - dubbed "Abenomics" - has also
offered some relief to the export-reliant economy by helping to
weaken the yen and lift Tokyo share prices.
Big manufacturers expect the dollar to average 85.22 yen
in the current fiscal year from April, up sharply from
their estimate of 80.56 yen for the previous year ended in
In a sign of a broadening recovery, the sentiment index for
big non-manufacturers improved 2 points to plus 6, the tankan
showed. The index for the three months to June was at plus 9.
The survey results are broadly in line with the Reuters
Tankan survey issued last month, which showed sentiment among
manufacturers improved for a fourth straight month in March.
The tankan's sentiment indexes are derived by subtracting
the percentage of respondents who say conditions are poor from
those who say they are good. A negative reading means pessimists