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Japanese manufacturing contracts as trade tensions intensify

Japan's manufacturing activity contracted in May amid mounting trade tensions between the U.S. and China, as output and new orders declined for the fifth time in a row, flash data from Nikkei and IHS Markit showed.

The headline Purchasing Managers' Index dropped to 49.6 in May from 50.2 in April, when it rebounded from the prior month. A reading below 50 indicates contraction while a reading above that reflects expansion.

Exports fell at the sharpest rate in four months while backlogs of work decreased in May at the same pace as a month earlier.

Meanwhile, business sentiment turned negative for the first time in 6.5 years.