A key quarterly economic survey by the Bank of Japan shows sentiment among large manufacturers dipped two points to 19, as worries grow about global trade tensions.
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The "tankan" survey, released Monday, marked the third straight quarter of decline.
The survey, long seen as an important indicator of the state of the world's third largest economy, looks at the difference between companies surveyed that have a "favorable" outlook and those with an "unfavorable" outlook.
The latest results show optimists outnumber pessimists but the gap is shrinking.
The manufacturers surveyed include automakers and electronics companies that are mainstays of Japan's economy.
Some analysts had expected a rebound in sentiment.
Japan's growth is dependent on exports and any slowdown in pan-Pacific trade would hurt sentiment. Uncertainty over trade friction with the U.S. also would discourage investment as manufacturers hold back waiting to see if their sales or profits might be affected by newly imposed tariffs or other policies inspired by President Donald Trump's "America first" stance on trade.