Political change, China news spurs spike in Q2 Asia business sentiment

SHANGHAI, June 18 Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:02pm EDT

SHANGHAI, June 18 (Reuters) - Business sentiment among Asia's top companies hit its highest level in more than two years in the second quarter of 2014, rising sharply on supportive political changes around the region and positive signs from China, a ThomsonReuters/INSEAD survey showed.

The ThomsonReuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Index jumped to 74 in the second quarter from 64 in the first, the highest reading since the start of 2012. A reading above 50 indicates an overall positive outlook.

Leadership change gave India and Thailand sorely-needed shots in the arm, with the two key markets powering a rise in the wider index. Robust scores from China and Australia also helped lift the index with scores of 67 and 79 respectively, both up significantly from the previous quarter.

Export-driven South Korea saw a steep drop to 50 from 67 in the first quarter on weaker trade and consumer data. Japan and Malaysia edged down slightly, while Singapore and the Philippines held flat, although the Philippines still maintained its 100 reading, the same as in the first quarter.

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Additional reporting by Aditi Shah in NEW DELHI; Editing by Matt Driskill)