South-east Asia finance heads the most bullish in region about business outlook

Never mind the slowdown in China or the patchy recovery in the United States - chief financial officers in the Southeast Asia region are confident that it will be full steam ahead for their companies this year.

A survey of 604 chief financial officers (CFOs) and senior finance executives across Asia Pacific by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that 71 per cent of all respondents expect their firms' revenues to be higher this year than last year.

A slightly lower number - 62 per cent - expect profits to be higher year-on-year, as higher commodity costs bite into their margins.

Among the markets included in the survey, respondents from Southeast Asia were the most bullish.

In Indonesia, for example, 90 per cent of the CFOs polled said they expected higher revenues this year, and 83 per cent said they expected higher profits.

In Thailand, 86 per cent forecast higher revenues and 69 per cent predicted higher profits.

The Philippines was also especially optimistic, with 81 per cent of the respondents expecting increased revenues and 78 per cent expecting fatter profits.

"Resilient domestic demand in Southeast Asia is key to explaining the optimism we are seeing," said BofAML's head of treasury sales for Asia Pacific, Mr Percy Batliwalla.

"In general, countries in Asia Pacific are experiencing a slowdown in exports, while countries in Southeast Asia are still enjoying strong economic growth relative to the rest of the world, fuelled in part by domestic consumer spending."

Singapore's numbers were closer to the overall figures, as 71 per cent of the CFOs surveyed here expected higher revenues and 65 per cent expected higher profits.

The least bullish markets were Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

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