Asia's biggest companies had been on a roll building, digging, selling goods to eager consumers.

But the recent economic malaise in India and sharp drops in regional currencies have spooked business executives.

The latest Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asia Corporate Sentiment Index posted a drop after a strong turn up in the previous quarter.

And looking ahead out of 90 companies surveyed across the region, only 32 percent reported a positive outlook.

Antonio Fatas of INSEAD:

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, INSEAD, ANTONIO FATAS, SAYING:

"I think what we're seeing by looking at the index, by looking at the answers is that the uncertainty in the world economy remains at a level which is too high. I think we have a combination of advanced economies still not showing growth rates which are solid enough, and in the last months we've been worrying a lot about some emerging markets."

Asia had been one of the fastest-growing regions in the world spurred on by strong demand for resources in fast-growing China, and a rising middle class buying more goods and property.

But it's also beset by volatility.

Indonesia - where companies are the most negative - has seen its currency fall to 4 and a half year lows.

India is wrestling with slowing growth and soaring inflation, its currency only beginning to recover from record drops.

Executives in the shipping and financial sectors were among the gloomiest in the latest survey, while property and food firms were among the most positive.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, TARA JOSEPH, SAYING:

"Global uncertainty remains the chief concern of Asia's companies. But with Europe and the U.S. showing signs of recovery, the outlook could well pick up again, especially for exporters."

ENDS