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Japan's 'tankan' economic survey shows sentiments souring

TOKYO (AP) — A closely watched economic survey by the Bank of Japan showed sentiments among major manufacturers soured for the fourth straight quarter. A trade war between the U.S. and China crimped trade and growth. Japan’s growth is dependent on exports and any slowdown in pan-Pacific trade hurts company sentiments.

Corporate optimism in Japan was also believed to have been dampened by a tax increase and damage from a typhoon, which both took place in October. The “tankan” survey released Friday showed the headline index for big manufacturers' sentiment was zero in December, down from plus 5 in September.

The index measures sentiment by subtracting the number of companies saying business conditions are negative from the number of respondents who say conditions are positive. Recent data show that the world's third-largest economy has been eking out strength but worries remain about the U.S.-China trade dispute as well as a slowdown in consumer spending, which was inflated as shoppers sought to buy items ahead of the hike.

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