Consumer confidence in Asia brightened in late 1998, according to a semiannual poll sponsored by MasterCard International.

The MasterIndex survey, which since 1993 has measured consumer confidence in 13 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region, assesses consumers' attitudes about the economy. A score of 50 denotes neutrality; higher scores show optimism; and lower ones indicate pessimism.

All of the surveyed countries and territories except India produced higher confidence scores in December than in June. The improvement in Malaysia was most pronounced, with the confidence score rising to 67.6 from 23.8.

"There is a clear regional trend," said Jonathon Gould, senior vice president of marketing in MasterCard's Asia-Pacific region. Though confidence is still lower than before June 1997, "this survey is a clear indication that consumer confidence is returning."

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