Asian business confidence rebounded in the third quarter as easing coronavirus restrictions lifted sales but lingering uncertainty over the pandemic thwarted a return to business-as-usual, said INSEAD recently.
Asian firms’ outlook for the next six months tracked by the Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asian Business Sentiment Index jumped to 53 in the third quarter from an 11-year low of 35 in the second, according to the business school.
An index higher than the 50-point mark indicates a positive outlook while the index is based on a survey of 103 companies across 11 Asia-Pacific countries during Aug 31 - Sep 14, INSEAD said.
Companies polled included Australia listed Oil Search, Indian motorcycle maker Hero MotoCorp and Japanese car maker Suzuki Motor, according to INSEAD.
The survey comes as the easing of coronavirus restrictions across Asia has reduced pressure on hard-hit economies, though the experience has varied across the region, with some still in recession and others, like China, seeing a steady recovery, INSEAD added.
The top risks
More than two-thirds of the companies polled said they saw the pandemic, or a fresh spike in COVID-19 cases, as a top risk, survey results indicate.
About 14% said a global recession was their biggest concern, while the rest flagged uncertainty over the upcoming US election in November and other risks, INSEAD said.
“We’re recovering with a large dose of uncertainty,” said Antonio Fatas, an economics professor at global business school INSEAD in Singapore. “If it was just because of Asia, I think the numbers would be more positive but the reality is the world is not just Asia.”
More companies are positive about their outlook
Some 28% of companies in the third quarter were positive about their outlook, the survey showed, up sharply from 7.6% in the second quarter.
About 60% of the firms polled said they did not hire or lay off people this quarter, in contrast to the second quarter’s survey in which 63% said they had cut jobs, the business school noted.