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South Korea Dec business sentiment rises to 4-mth high

[SEOUL] An index measuring South Korean manufacturers' assessment of business conditions expected in December rose to a four-month high, central bank data showed on Friday, bringing some cheer to the country's listless economic recovery.

The Bank of Korea's manufacturing business survey for December stepped up to a seasonally adjusted 80 from 76 for November, a central bank survey found. The December reading was the highest since the index notched the same level in August.

A reading below 100 indicates that the number of companies expecting deterioration in business conditions for the coming month outnumbers those predicting improvement. The index tends to remain low even during good times and has stayed below 100 since February 2011.

Expectations over future business conditions from nearly all companies rose for December on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, with the exception of conglomerates, where the index ticked down to 77 from 78.

The sub-indices showed confidence in companies' financial conditions gained the most for December, but the biggest worry for businesses remained poor domestic consumption - unchanged from the previous month.

The data comes just hours before October industrial production numbers are issued, with output expected to have picked up from September on a monthly basis.