July 8 (Reuters) - Asian firms received their smallest upgrade in 12 months in June, hit by a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in the region which prompted new restrictions on people's movement to curb fresh coronavirus outbreaks.
Analysts lifted their forecasts for Asian companies' forward 12-month profits by 0.2% in June, the smallest upgrade in a year, Refinitiv data showed.
The manufacturing activity grew at a slower pace in China and Japan as raw material prices rose, while activity shrank in Vietnam, Malaysia and India, where governments imposed tougher restrictions to contain new outbreaks. read more
The spread of the Delta variant continues to drive global case counts higher, with South Korea reporting its highest ever one-day number of infections on Thursday after Indonesia reported record deaths on Wednesday.
China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysian firms faced cuts to their forward earnings forecasts last month.
Growth in China's factory activity slowed to a 15-month low in June, hit by supply chain woes and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
Japan and Hong Kong had small upgrades. On the other hand, Australian firms' profits were lifted by 3%, thanks to a surge in commodity prices.
Analysts also raised their forward 12-month earnings estimates for Vietnamese companies by 9.3% in the last month as a recovery in developed economies bolstered the country's exports.
The data showed Asia is expected to post an earnings growth of 34.7% in 2021, compared with Europe's 63.4% and the United States' 45.5%.
However, Sean Taylor chief investment officer for the Asia Pacific at DWS, said in a note that Asia is well placed to grow above the trend in the post-pandemic world.
"North Asian markets (China, Taiwan, South Korea) in particular have managed the COVID-19 crisis very well. That is why they have had to take on less debt. That should have a positive impact going forward."
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