More than 90 of 100 major firms expect the economy to keep expanding until next spring, but more than 80 are concerned about oil price hikes and an economic slowdown in the United States, a Kyodo News survey shows.

The poll, conducted from late July to early August, also found that more than 60 firms expect the Bank of Japan to make another interest rate hike by March, following last month’s hike that was the first in six years.

Of the current economic situation, 94 of the 100 firms say the economy is expanding strongly or recovering moderately. Moderate recovery was cited by 88 companies, a twofold rise from a poll the previous year, indicating strong business confidence at present.

As for the second half of fiscal 2006 ending next March, 91 firms are forecasting strong expansion or moderate recovery. More than 50 cited capital investment growth or personal consumption recovery as a primary supporter of expansion in the second half.

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