TOKYO -- The Nikkei ASEAN Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, decreased marginally in September, but signaled a further improvement in operating conditions across the region.
The composite indicator of manufacturing performance stood at 50.3 in September, down slightly from 50.4 in August.
A reading above 50 indicates economic expansion, while a reading below 50 points toward contraction.
Four of the seven countries covered by the survey saw growth across their manufacturing sectors, down from five in August.
"The ASEAN manufacturing economy ended the third quarter on a positive note, however an air of caution continued to weigh on confidence across the region," said Bernard Aw, principal economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.
Business optimism about the year ahead came in at a five-year low, "suggesting that companies have become less confident towards the longer-term outlook."
"That in turn impacted plans to build inventories or hire more staff. The ongoing presence of spare capacity also weighed on employment prospects," he added.
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