TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese business sentiment improved in July-September from a 11-year low hit three months ago, a key central bank survey showed, in a sign the economy is gradually emerging from the devastating hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: An employee wearing a protective face mask and face guard works on the automobile assembly line as the maker ramps up car production with new security and health measures as a step to resume full operations, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Kawasaki factory of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp., owned by Germany-based Daimler AG, in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, Japan May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

The data offers some hope for new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s efforts to achieve an economic revival from the crisis and pave the way for hosting next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

But factory activity remained shaky and corporate capital expenditure plans were at their weakest since the 2009 global financial crisis, underscoring the challenge of pulling the world’s third-largest economy sustainably out of its slump.

As the pandemic’s pain persists, a ruling party heavyweight signalled Japan’s readiness to compile a “large-scale, bold” additional spending package.

The headline index for big manufacturers’ sentiment improved to minus 27 in September, off a 11-year low of minus 34 in June but worse than a median market forecast of minus 23, the Bank of Japan’s closely watched “tankan” survey showed on Thursday.

While it showed many firms remain downbeat, it was the first sign of improvement in nearly three years.

“The big manufacturers’ index turned out a little weaker than expected, reflecting an uneven recovery,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

“Capital expenditure may weaken in coming months as companies put off non-urgent spending plans

By Leika Kihara and Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese business sentiment improved in July-September from a 11-year low hit three months ago, a key central bank survey showed, in a sign the economy is gradually emerging from the devastating hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

The data offers some hope for new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s efforts to achieve an economic revival from the crisis and pave the way for hosting next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

The headline index for big manufacturers’ sentiment improved to minus 27 in September versus minus 34 in June, which was the lowest level since June 2009, the Bank of Japan’s closely watched “tankan” quarterly survey showed on Thursday.

The result compared with economists’ median estimate of minus 23 in a Reuters poll. While still indicating most companies’ outlook remains downbeat, it was the first sign of improvement in 11 quarters.

“The big manufacturers’ index turned out a little weaker than expected, reflecting an uneven recovery,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

“While automakers’ sentiment rebounded sharply, confidence among capital goods makers is weak. Capital expenditure may weaken in coming months as companies put off non-urgent spending plans amid slumping profits,” he said.

Japan’s factory activity posted its longest streak of declines on record in September, a private sector survey showed on Thursday. The survey showed output, new orders and work backlog contracted again, although at a more modest pace.

The sentiment index for big non-manufacturers also recovered to minus 12 from minus 17 in June, which was the worst reading since December 2009. Analysts polled by Reuters expected the index to hit minus 9.

Manufacturers and non-manufacturers expect business conditions to improve three months ahead, the tankan showed.

The survey also showed big firms plan to raise their capital expenditure by