TOKYO - Confidence among Japan's biggest manufacturers has plunged into negative territory for the first time in 7 years, a key survey showed Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic hits demand and disrupts production.
The Bank of Japan's March Tankan business survey -- a quarterly poll of about 10,000 companies -- showed a reading of minus 8 among major manufacturers, the first negative reading since March 2013.
The short-term business sentiment survey reports the difference between the percentage of firms that are upbeat and those that see conditions as unfavorable.
A negative reading means more companies are pessimistic than optimistic. It is considered to be the broadest indicator of how Japan Inc is faring.
The index for non-manufacturers fell to plus 8 from 20 in the December 2019 survey as the virus also hit tourism, entertainment and other service industries.
"Negative impacts are spreading broadly in various channels," Tsuyoshi Ueno, senior economist at NLI Research, said in a report ahead of the Tankan release.
They range from slower exports, disruptions of parts from China, plunges in foreign visitors and cancellations of sports and other events to weaker stock prices and a higher yen, he said.