(Sept 17): Business sentiment among Asia's top companies fell sharply in the third quarter as last quarter's positive signs from China and Singapore slipped on an uncertain global economic outlook and rising costs, outweighing continued optimism in India, a ThomsonReuters/INSEAD survey showed.
The ThomsonReuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Index fell to 66 in the third quarter of this year from 74 in the second quarter, its steepest decline in three years. A reading above 50 indicates an overall positive outlook.
AUTOS: IN OVERDRIVE (INDEX AT 75 VS 67 IN Q2)
Sentiment among Asian automakers showed robust growth in the third quarter of 2014 from the second quarter, when it hit a two-year high. Three of six respondents were positive on the outlook, an improvement over two the last time. New orders and sales increased at five automakers, but global economic uncertainty remained the biggest worry for most respondents, which included India's Hero MotoCorp.
BUILDING: REALTY BITES (INDEX AT 50 VS 75 IN Q2)
Sentiment for the building sector fell sharply in the third quarter as all the four companies polled were neutral in their outlook, compared with positive for half of the companies in the second quarter. Global economic uncertainty remained the top risk. Orders and sales increased at two companies.
DRUGS: SLIGHT REBOUND (INDEX AT 75 VS 70 IN Q2)
Drugmakers recovered in the third quarter, with five out of 10 respondents positive on their outlook. In the second quarter, two were positive while three were neutral. Global economic uncertainty was again cited the top worry, followed by rising costs. The participants include India's Lupin Ltd and Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd.
FINANCIALS: PESSIMISM GROWS (INDEX AT 50 VS 60 IN Q2)
Global economic uncertainty continued to hurt sentiment in the financial sector in the third quarter, which declined further from the second. Two companies were negative on outlook, the first time since the fourth quarter of 2012, while 10 reported neutral out of the 14 respondents, which included Malaysia's Alliance Bank.
FOOD: STEADY (INDEX AT 75 VS 75 IN Q2)
Sentiment was unchanged for food companies in the third quarter compared with the second. Seven of 14 companies reported a positive outlook, while the rest were neutral. Rising costs remained the top concern for most respondents in the survey, which included Japan's Asahi Breweries and Kirin Holdings .
PROPERTY: CONFIDENCE DENTED (INDEX AT 63 VS 79 IN Q2)
The property sector was marred by pessimism, with sentiment down sharply from the previous quarter as only four of 15 companies were positive on outlook compared with 10 of 17 firms that reported last time. Global economic uncertainty was perceived as the top risk by property firms. Ayala Land of the Philippines was among those participating in the survey.
RESOURCES: EDGES DOWN (INDEX AT 75 VS 80 IN Q2)
Resource companies retained their strong positive reading in the third quarter, though slightly down from the previous quarter. Rising costs, global economic uncertainty and "other" risks like regulatory uncertainty were the main concerns for resource firms. Australia's Oil Search was among the respondents.
RETAIL: UNINSPIRING (INDEX AT 63 VS 69 IN Q2)
Sentiment among retailers continued to deteriorate for the second consecutive quarter, with six of the eight polling neutral in their outlook, while two were positive. Rising costs remained the biggest concern for firms, though new orders and sales increased at four. Japan's Seven & I Holdings and Fast Retailing were among the respondents.
SHIPPING: CHOPPY WATERS (INDEX AT 50 VS 75 IN Q2)
The shipping industry's outlook took a big hit in the third quarter, sharply dropping from the previous quarter's one-year high reading of 75, as all eight firms polled neutral. Global economic uncertainty and rising costs remained the major concerns for the respondents, which included South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd.
TECH: SLIGHT DROP (INDEX AT 68 VS 73 IN Q2)
Overall sentiment was positive for technology companies though it fell slightly from the second quarter as new orders and sales fell for two companies out of 17, compared with just one out of 25 previously. A little more than half reported an increase in sales and orders, much less than the near two-thirds the last time. Rising costs and global economic uncertainties were the top risks perceived the firms, which included Japan's Toshiba.
** Companies sampled for the survey may change from one quarter to the next. (Compiled by Prateek Chatterjee)