Business sentiment in Singapore at a year low

Business sentiment in Singapore at a year low

SINGAPORE - Business sentiment in Singapore has fallen even as that in other economies of South-east Asia stayed upbeat and among the highest in Asia.

In the fourth quarter of this year, Singapore's sentiment index, at 50, is at its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the latest Thomson Reuters/Insead Asia Business Sentiment Survey, which was published on wednesday.

A reading above 50 indicates an overall positive outlook, while one below points to pessimism.

Meanwhile, corporate sentiment in South-east Asia was mostly upbeat, with Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines recording the highest scores in the poll at 100 points each.

All of the 15 respondents from the three countries were positive about their business outlook, showed the survey, which was compiled on Dec 3-14 and covered sectors such as cars, finance, property, resources and technology.

There were 96 responses out of 100 of Asia-Pacific's top companies in 11 economies.

"Indonesia will remain our favourite destination in Asia due to very attractive structural forces in play currently," said Juuso Mykkänen, chief executive of JOM Fund Management Ltd in Helsinki, which is running an investment company that have funds focused on investing in Asia.

"However, having said that, we have tactically increased weight in China in recent months as cyclical factors are on our side and valuations remain very compelling."

Within South-east Asia, Thai firms also grew more upbeat as the country's index, at 75 points, improved from the last quarter, with three out of six companies reporting positive sentiment and three neutral.

The results showed a stark contrast between companies in South-east Asia, a region of about 600 million people now benefiting from an increase in foreign investment and which showed some of the highest positive readings, and manufacturing- heavy North-east Asia, which is more susceptible to the global economic downturn and had some of the lowest index readings.

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