Asian companies more optimistic in second quarter: Thomson Reuters/Insead survey

A man carries his shopping bags on a busy street in Shanghai.
A man carries his shopping bags on a busy street in Shanghai. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Sentiment among Asia's largest companies was at the highest in a year in the second quarter of this year, according to a survey.

It was helped by signs that China's economy was slowly steadying, the Thomson Reuters/Insead Asian Business Sentiment Survey found.

Its business sentiment index, representing the six-month outlook of 139 firms, rose to 67 for April to June, versus 65 three months earlier.

This continues a rebound from a four-year low of 58 in December.

A reading over 50 indicates a positive view.

During the quarter, China posted a marginal decline in May imports that was far less than market expectations, reflecting a pick-up in domestic demand as the government raises spending on infrastructure projects to support growth, the survey noted.

Corporate sentiment in China was the highest in almost a year, with respondents including China Jo Jo Drugstores producing a subindex of 75, up from 71 in the previous survey.

"What we are seeing today relative to the past two quarters is that Chinese risk has gone down. People are a little bit less worried about the possibility that something sudden will happen in China," said Singapore-based economics professor Antonio Fatas from Insead.

Increased optimism was seen across Asean.

Sentiment in Singapore reached a two-year high at 63 from 50, while Indonesia recorded the quarter's biggest rebound in sentiment with a 22-point jump to 64, also helped by government spending on public works. Sentiment in Malaysia swung positive from 45 to 55.