TOKYO/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Business sentiment at Asia’s leading companies rebounded in the fourth quarter as corporations shrugged off concern that the debt crisis unfolding on Europe’s fringes will hobble global growth.
The Reuters Asia Corporate Sentiment Index rose to 77 in the quarter from 69 in the third quarter, the second highest reading since Reuters began collecting data in June 2009.
“There’s sloshes of liquidity going around. People feel rich, companies see people are still spending and that overrides some of the headwinds such as the problems in Europe,” said Song Seng Wun, a Singapore-based regional economist at CIMB, Malaysia’s second largest bank.
Tobias Trotter, managing director of topfinancialjobs.com.sg, which focuses on financial sector recruiting in Asia, said firms were still looking to hire aggressively despite this being the year-end when activity slows.
“There’s a little bit of market uncertainty but I think people are making a long-term bet that Asia is looking strong,” he said.
The index remained well above the 50 mark that separates positive from negative outlooks, with sentiment especially strong in the resources, financial and property industries that have benefited from robust growth within Asia and strong inflows of cash into the region.
Sentiment in the technology sector, more exposed to the global economic cycle, however remained the most cautious.
Japanese corporates were the most wary about the outlook for their business, while fast-growing China and India remained among the most upbeat.