Japan business confidence index slumps more than expected

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TOKYO (AP) — A closely watched index of business confidence in Japan has slumped more than expected, sending stocks down in early trading in Tokyo.

The "tankan" index for large manufacturers fell to 6 in March, down from 12 in December. The Bank of Japan released the results of its quarterly survey on Friday.

Analysts surveyed last week by Japan's Kyodo news service predicted it would fall to 8.

The index measures the portion of companies that are positive about business conditions minus those that are negative. So an index level of 6 means slightly more companies are optimistic than pessimistic.

Japan's big exporters have been hit by a double whammy of a slowing Chinese economy and a rising yen.