SYDNEY, 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 blow tobusiness outlook.
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.
AUSTRALIA: MODERATELY HIGHER (Index at 79 vs 75 Q2)
Corporate confidence in Australia rose to match highs hit inthe first quarter of 2012 as the conservative coalition won alandslide victory in the federal election, bolstering sentiment.Incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declared Australia as"open for business".
Of the seven respondents, four were positive while threeremained neutral about the business outlook. In the previousquarter there were 14 respondents, with seven neutral and sevenhaving a positive outlook.
The majority of respondents cited global economicuncertainty as their main source of concern and said the numberof new orders remained the same.
CHINA: STEADY (Index at 50 vs 50 Q2)
Business sentiment in China remained flat for a thirdconsecutive quarter as all eight companies surveyed said theirbusiness outlook remained neutral.
Five respondents cited the world economy as their biggestconcern while the remainder flagged rising costs as theirprimary worry. One respondent reported a rise in employmentcompared to none last quarter while three said new orders hadincreased.
INDIA: SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT (Index at 67 vs 63 Q2)
Optimism returned to India, lifting its sentiment indexmoderately higher after a drop last quarter.
Three respondents said their main concern was a shaky worldeconomy while a rout in the rupee in August also rattledsentiment with a third of companies worried about foreignexchange rates. Two respondents reported a lift in employmentwhile five said new orders had risen.
Political instability was also cited as a concern from onecompany.
Lupin Pharmaceuticals Ltd, India's fourth-largestdrugmaker by sales, and electricals retailer Godrej & Boyce wereamong the participants.
JAPAN: STEADY (Index at 63 vs 63 Q2)
Business confidence remained steady in Japan at 63, itshighest point since June 2010 among the 20 companies surveyed,which included tech giant Canon Inc and globalpharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo.
Half the respondents said global economic uncertainty was aprimary concern while the remainder cited rising costs andexchange volatility as roadblocks to any moves higher. Twocompanies saw an increase in employment while two had decreased;the remaining 16 saw the same levels as the previous quarter.
SOUTH KOREA: SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER (Index at 50 vs 64 Q2)
Corporate sentiment slumped to 2013 first-quarter lows of50, as six of the nine respondents said global economicuncertainty was the biggest risk to businesses this quarter.
Four companies said it saw a rise in new orders while theremainder stayed the same. In employment, one company said itslevels of employment increased but the remaining eight wereunchanged.
Hyundai Heavy Industries Co was among theparticipants in the survey.
TAIWAN: DOWNBEAT(Index at 50 vs 67 Q2)
Taiwan saw its business sentiment slump to 50, its lowestpoint since the fourth quarter in 2012. Electronics company AcerIncorporated was among those surveyed.
Eighty percent of respondents said the biggest risk tobusinesses was global economic uncertainty while the remaindercited rising costs as their primary concern.
Two companies said employment levels had increased, whileone reported a rise in new orders, a slight improvement fromlast quarter.
SOUTHEAST ASIA (Phillipines at 100 Vs 94; Thailand at 71 vs42; Malaysia at 69 vs 83; Singapore at 50 vs 83; Indonesia at 25vs 100)
Sentiment in Southeast Asia was mostly upbeat with thePhillipines posting unanimous confidence across all 12 companiessurveyed, an uptick from the previous quarter.
Businesses in Thailand were mostly positive, strengtheningfrom multi-year lows hit last quarter, with three positive aboutbusiness outlook and four remaining neutral.
Both Malaysia and Singapore fell from the previous quarterwith the majority of businesses in both countries citinguncertainty in the global economy as the biggest risk.
Indonesia had the lowest index score, slumping from lastquarter's perfect outlook as businesses cited domestic inflationand global uncertainty for a bleak outlook.
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