* Manufacturers sentiment index -17, non-manufacturers +10
* Outlook buoyed by PM Abe's drive for BOJ easing, weak yen
* Reuters Tankan highly correlates with BOJ tankan
By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Izumi Nakagawa
TOKYO, Jan 24 Sentiment among Japanese
manufacturers improved for a second straight month and is
expected to turn into a positive reading in the coming few
months, a Reuters poll showed, providing some evidence that the
economy is crawling out of a mild recession.
The poll of 400 firms, of which 266 responded during Jan.
8-21, comes as new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rolled out an
economic stimulus package and the yen weakened in expectations
of bold monetary easing by the Bank of Japan.
The BOJ doubled its inflation target to 2 percent on Tuesday
and made an open-ended commitment to buy assets from next year
after weeks of relentless pressure from Abe for a greater push
to lift an economy out of deflation.
The Reuters Tankan, which closely correlates with the BOJ's
key quarterly tankan survey, also showed the mood among
non-manufacturers, including retailers and construction firms,
rose for the second consecutive month and is seen rising further
"Consumer sentiment shows some signs of improvement due to
the weakening yen and rising share prices from around when the
new administration was launched (in December), although the mood
has not fully recovered yet," one construction firm said.
An electric machinery maker said: "The Japanese economy
appears to be resuming a pick-up although it may be too early to
attribute it to Abe's calls for strong monetary easing and a
correction in the strong yen."
In the Reuters Tankan, the manufacturers' sentiment index
rose by a point to minus 17 in January, up two points from the
lowest level in three years registered in November.
The index, derived by subtracting the percentage of
pessimistic responses from optimistic ones, is expected to jump
to plus 1 in April, meaning that optimists outnumber pessimists.
The rise is driven by gains in sectors including chemicals,
oil refinery, steel, electric machinery and metal products.
The index for non-manufacturers rose five points to plus 10
and it is seen rising further to plus 18 in April, led by
sectors such as wholesalers, real estate and construction, which
could benefit from reconstruction after the March 2011 disaster.
The latest Reuters Tankan points to improvement in the BOJ's
March tankan from December when it showed big manufacturers'
mood slid for two straight quarters.
Analysts expect exports and the broader economy will pick up
gradually along with the global recovery, helped by the yen's
weakening due to BOJ easing and Abe's aim of more expansionary
fiscal and monetary policy.
Abe's cabinet approved this month $117 billion spending in
the biggest stimulus since the global financial crisis.