Asian firms largely upbeat

SINGAPORE: Companies in Asia Pacific are in a broadly positive mood about their growth prospects, with retailers, packaged food groups and beverage manufacturers among the most optimistic.

Thomson Reuters, the information provider, and INSEAD, the business school, polled177 brand owners, 78 of which agreed the business climate for the next six months appeared to be favourable.

By contrast, 87 regarded the situation as essentially unchanged, and 12 were pessimistic. The overall index barometer of business sentiment also fell to 69 points in June from 74 points in March, but was still above the 50-point neutral benchmark.

Some 111 respondents reported that uncertain global economic conditions were the "biggest risk factor" they faced, while 28 cited rising costs.

"Asian businesses - the big exporters - face potential weakness in essentially most of their end-markets," said Nick Paulson-Ellis, the India head at Espirito Santo Securities.

"It's clearly not going to be an easy time. You've got slowdowns domestically after pretty aggressive tightening last year in a lot of developing economies and you've got weakness in end-markets, so it's a very, very tough period for Asian corporates."

Seven of the 12 featured retailers were optimistic, as were ten of the 16 food and beverage manufacturers and four of the six pharmaceutical companies on the panel.

Elsewhere, 13 of 32 technology specialists were positive, 18 were neutral and one was negative. Within this, nine of the ten Japanese firms - a group including Sharp, Toshiba and Softbank - were neutral.



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