(Corrects final paragraph to show Singapore’s previous reading was 61, not 63)
SYDNEY, June 19 (Reuters) - Optimism among Asia’s top companies gathered momentum in the second quarter despite lingering concerns about the global economy and rising costs, the latest Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Survey published on Wednesday showed.
The Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Index climbed six points to 71 in June, its highest level in five quarters and the third consecutive quarterly rise, suggesting the rebound from a drop in the three months ended last June and September was here to stay. A reading above 50 indicates a generally positive outlook.
Of the 91 companies that participated in the poll, 43.9 percent were positive about their outlook, while 53.8 percent were neutral. A tiny 2.2 percent reported a negative outlook.
PDF of survey link.reuters.com/sex88t
Insider video link.reuters.com/tyx88t
Sentiment survey vs MSCI link.reuters.com/mer88t
Biggest perceived risks link.reuters.com/ner88t
AUSTRALIA: KEEPS IMPROVING (INDEX AT 75 vs 63 IN Q1)
Business confidence among companies in Australia continued to improve in the second quarter, driving the country’s sentiment index to its highest level since the first quarter 2012, although more participants were worried about the global economy.
Of the 14 respondents, seven companies were positive while the other seven were neutral about the business outlook. In the previous quarter when there were eight respondents, two were positive and six were neutral.
Eleven respondents said world economic uncertainty was their top worry, much more than those in the March survey. Six companies said their new orders increased, while seven said orders were the same.
Corporate sentiment in China remained subdued after a drop in March, as companies worried about global economic uncertainty and rising costs. All 11 respondents were neutral on their business outlook with the index flat at a record low of 50.
Five companies said the world economy was their biggest concern, three blamed rising costs and one cited regulatory uncertainty. Three said they saw increased orders while seven said new orders remained the same.
Worries about rising costs continued to weigh on business sentiment in India, pulling the index down to the lowest level since December 2009.
Of four respondents, two were positive, one neutral and one negative, the first time a company reported a negative response since the December 2011 survey. Three companies said rising prices were the biggest challenge, while one cited other risks.
Two companies saw rising costs as a worry, while the other two were concerned about currency volatility and global economic uncertainty respectively. Two companies said new orders were higher, while one said sales decreased.
Business sentiment in Japan jumped to the highest level in three years, although companies were still worried about the global economic uncertainty environment, volatile currency fluctuations and rising costs.
Of the 19 respondents, which included Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd (4568.T), Toshiba Corp (6502.T), Hitachi Ltd (6501.T) and Sharp Corp (6753.T), five were positive on the outlook and 14 were neutral. In the previous survey, only one out of 22 participants was positive.
Seven companies said their biggest concern was the world economy, while five worried about currency volatility and two saw rising costs as the main risk.
Business confidence among companies in South Korea significantly improved in the June quarter, climbing to the highest since the second quarter of 2011.
Of seven respondents, including Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd (009540.KS), five were neutral about their outlook and two were positive. It was the first time companies reported positive responses in a year.
A majority of six said the global economy was their top business risk, while one saw foreign exchange volatility as a concern.
TAIWAN: PULLS BACK FROM 1-YR HIGH (INDEX AT 67 VS 88 IN Q1)
Taiwan’s corporate sentiment index pulled back from a one-year high in the last quarter, as global economic uncertainties weighed.
Only one out of three respondents was positive in their outlook, compared with three positive responses out of four in the previous survey. The other two were neutral.
All three participants saw economic uncertainty as the biggest risk. Only one company reported increased orders, while two said sales remained the same.
SE ASIA: MIXED (INDONESIA at 100; PHILIPPINES At 94; SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA AT 83; THAILAND 42)
Business confidence in Southeast Asia was mixed in the second quarter, with Indonesian companies unanimously turning positive and Thailand’s sentiment index dropping to an all-time low.
Indonesia, the region’s biggest economy, improved significantly in business confidence as all nine respondents were positive in the their outlook, up from three in the previous quarter.
Of six companies in Thailand, five were neutral and one was negative compared with one out of five respondents with a positive outlook in the previous three months.
Singapore’s confidence improved from the previous reading of 61, with four still concerned about the global economy.
**Companies sampled for the survey may change from one quarter to the next.
Compiled by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Matt Driskill