[SEOUL] An index measuring South Korean manufacturers' confidence about the coming month edged up to its highest in 10 months, thanks to improved sentiment among exporters, according to the central bank.
The Bank of Korea said in a statement on Monday that its manufacturing business survey index on the prospects for January rose to a seasonally-adjusted 81 from 80 in December. The fresh level is the highest since March, when the index was 82.
A reading below 100 means companies expecting deterioration in business conditions during the coming month outnumbered those predicting an improvement. The index has been below 100 for nearly four years.
Break-down figures that the central bank provided on a seasonally unadjusted basis showed the January prospects index for exporters jumped by 11 points to 81, contrasting a 3-point drop in the reading for non-exporters to 74.
South Korea saw quarterly growth pick up to 0.9 per cent in July-September from 0.5 per cent in the prior quarter thanks to stimulus measures but signs have been growing that the recovery may be slowing.
Asia's fourth-largest economy derives just more than half of its annual output from private consumption, but exports remain a dominant growth driver as overseas sales influence corporate investment and employment at home.
The Bank of Korea said it surveyed more than 1,400 manufacturing companies.