Investors downbeat in developed Asia: Manulife Financial

Investor confidence is lower across developed Asia than in emerging markets in the region, according to a new study by Manulife Financial.

People in developed Asia are not confident that now is the right time to invest, finds the insurer’s inaugural investor sentiment index (ISI), for which 3,500 individuals were interviewed across seven markets in the region.

Taiwan and Hong Kong scored -8 and -4 respectively, in contrast to the greater optimism felt in the emerging Asia markets of Indonesia and Malaysia, which scored 54 and 52 respectively. (A figure below zero indicates negative sentiment and above zero positive sentiment.)

Malaysia, for instance, expressed optimism on the back of strong economic performance, says Michael Dommermuth, president of Manulife Asset Management Asia. In the fourth quarter of 2012, the country’s economy grew 6.4% year-on-year and 5.3% quarter-on-quarter. For the full year, Malaysia grew 5.6% over 2011, he adds, and this performance helped to boost domestic equity, property and debt markets.

By contrast, the export-led market of Taiwan suffered last year on the back of a slow global economic recovery. In the fourth quarter, there was talk of a luxury tax on premium properties and a capital gains tax on securities that weighed on the market, notes Dommermuth…

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