SEOUL, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Asia's top companies were lessupbeat about their business outlook in the third quarter of 2013as concerns about the global economy and rising costs dampenedsentiment, the latest Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asia BusinessSentiment Survey published on Wednesday showed.
Global uncertainty on when the U.S. Federal Reserve willtaper its $85 billion bond buying program and geopoliticaltensions in Syria have spooked markets, dealing a slight tobusiness sentiment.
The Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Index fell to a reading of 66 in September from 71 in thesecond quarter. A reading above 50 indicates an overall positiveoutlook.
PROPERTY: BEST AMONG ALL SECTORS (INDEX AT 100 V 83 IN Q2)
The property and building sectors were the most bullish withreadings of 100 each. All of the 10 property firms polledpainted a rosy outlook, bringing the index to the full mark forthe first time since the fourth quarter of 2009.
Eight respondents said new orders were higher while sevensaid employment levels improved. The Philippines' Ayala Land Inc was among the companies surveyed.
BUILDING: SHARP REBOUND (INDEX AT 100 VS 50 IN Q2)
The confidence level for builders made a sharp rebound,making the steepest gain among all sectors. While all threerespondents projected a bright outlook, they said employmentlevels remained the same as risks loomed about higher costs.Construction materials maker James Hardie Industries was one of the respondents.
FOOD: GOING STEADY (INDEX UNCHANGED AT 75)
Food and beverage companies remained upbeat about theirprojections, although currency volatility and rising costsremained worries. Five companies had a positive outlook, whilean equal number of firms expressed neutral views.
Seven reported an increase in orders while three said theyremained the same. Japan's Asahi Breweries and the Philippines'Universal Robina were among the participants.
RESOURCES: BOUNCING BACK FROM DIP (INDEX AT 72 VS 66 IN Q2)
The reading among resources companies bounced back from thesecond quarter, with four firms predicting a better outlook andfive holding a neutral view. Six respondents said ordersremained steady, while the other three said orders went up.Thailand's Banpu PCL was among those polled.
AUTOS: RECOVERY PATH (INDEX AT 63 VS 56 IN Q2)
The index for automakers in Asia improved for a secondconsecutive quarter, although global economic uncertaintyremained a major risk. Two respondents were optimistic abouttheir outlook, while the other two were neutral or negative.
TECH: OPTIMISM WEAKENS (INDEX AT 62 VS 75 IN Q2)
Fewer technology firms had an upbeat outlook in the thirdquarter, pulling down the index. Three companies had a positiveoutlook in the third quarter, while eight had an upbeat view inthe second quarter.
Three firms cut employment levels, while the other 10 maintained or lifted the current headcount. Japan's Toshiba and NTT DoCoMo were among those who joined thesurvey.
DRUGS: REMAIN AT OVER 2-YEAR-LOW (INDEX UNCHANGED AT 60)
Currency volatility and global economic uncertainty hamperedthe recovery of the confidence for drug makers, which remainedat its lowest level since the first quarter of 2011.
Four respondents were neutral on their outlook, while onewas positive. The participants include India's Lupin Ltd andJapan's Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd.
RETAIL: COOLING (INDEX AT 57 VS 69 IN Q2)
The mood among retailers deteriorated from the precedingquarter, as six out of seven polled were neutral on theirforecasts and only one was bullish.
Rising costs were the biggest concern for the respondents,which included Japan's Seven & I Holdings and FastRetailing.
FINANCIALS: BIG DECLINE (INDEX AT 50 VS 78 IN Q2)
The financial sector, along with the shipping industry, wasthe most negative with its business confidence dropping to itslowest level in three quarters.
All of the 21 respondents were neutral about their outlook,although most of them said sales had remained steady orincreased. Alliance Financial Group took part in thesurvey, among others.
SHIPPING: LOSING STEAM (INDEX AT 50 VS 80 IN Q2)
The sentiment in the shipping-related sector suffered thebiggest fall as concerns about global economic uncertaintyweighed on Hyundai Heavy Industries and othercompanies. All eight respondents held a neutral outlook despiteorders rising or remaining steady.