After the market’s recent rebound, Asia’s biggest companies have a more positive outlook for the next six months than they did in the fourth quarter last year.
A survey of 97 firms for the Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asian Business Sentiment Index showed a reading of 65 for March, up from 58 in December, a four-year low. A reading over 50 indicates a positive view.
Surprisingly, the biggest change in outlook came from China.
Where sentiment rose 21 points to 71, and its chief trading partners, such as Singapore, which jumped 29 points, the quarter’s steepest rise after two very pessimistic quarters. The biggest risks to the positive outlook in declining order were falling demand in China, excessive foreign exchange volatility and falling oil prices.
“The index is not an amazingly great number but it tells us there is certainly less pessimism now than in previous surveys,” Singapore-based economics professor Antonio Fatas at global business school INSEAD told Reuters.
“People are digesting the economic slowdown in China and are being more optimistic and looking for opportunities rather than being alarmist, and that shows up in the numbers around the region, particularly Singapore,” he said.
Subindexes remained below the 50 mark in Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia. And sentiment fell the most in Indonesia, by 23 points to 42.
Companies in the Philippines were the most optimistic jumping 8 points to 85.