Asia business sentiment improves in Q1, global worries continue to weigh

SEOUL (Reuters) - Business sentiment among Asia's top companies edged up in the first quarter as solid improvement in the Philippines and South Korea outweighed weakness in China, India and Australia amid persistent concerns over the global economy, a ThomsonReuters/Insead survey showed.

The ThomsonReuters/Insead Asia Business Sentiment index snapped two consecutive quarterly declines and rose to 64 in the first quarter of this year from 62 in the fourth quarter of 2013. A reading above 50 indicates an overall positive outlook.

Uncertainty about the global economic outlook and rising costs remained the biggest risk factors for the region's firms, according to the survey, which also found sentiment in the autos, retail and resource sectors improved, while confidence among companies in the building sector tumbled.

Solid gains in Japan, South Korea and regional trading hub Singapore supported the index, but weaker sentiment from China, Australia and India underscored fragile prospects for an improvement in global demand.