Some 52 percent of major companies expect an economic upturn in the latter half of the current business year, according to a recent survey by Kyodo News released Friday.

Of the 150 companies polled, 26.6 percent do not expect the economy to pick up until fiscal 2003. Many of the more pessimistic firms are manufacturers and retailers, which have been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn.

However, 10.6 percent of the companies said they expect the economy to begin improving in the first half of the current business year.

Only five companies surveyed said an economic upturn will not be seen until fiscal 2004 or later, while seven firms said an economic recovery is not possible at present, or that the economy will remain sluggish even after it hits bottom.

Some 36.6 percent companies said they expect to see increases in both revenues and profit when they close their books for the current year to March 31.

The survey was conducted from late March to mid-April.

Confidence among the companies showed a slight improvement, with 14.6 percent of managers saying business conditions were bottoming out or hitting bottom.

But 100 companies said conditions were still bad, and 11 said conditions were very bad.

Thirteen percent said conditions were neither bad nor good, and only one company among the 150 said conditions were good.

On spending on facilities and equipment for this business year, 22.6 percent plan an increase, 14.6 percent plan no change either way and 24 percent plan a decrease.

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