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[SEOUL] South Korea's manufacturing activity expanded for the first time in five months in January thanks to a modest improvement in new export orders, a private-sector survey found on Monday.
The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) on South Korea's manufacturing sector rose to 51.1 on a seasonally adjusted basis from 49.9 in December, data from Markit Economics showed. The index touched the highest level since May 2013.
January was the first time since August last year that the index rose above the 50-point mark separating expansion from contraction.
A sub-index on new export orders received by South Korea's manufacturing firms in January rose to 51.6 from 49.2 in December, the highest since January last year.
Industrial output data released last Friday showed factory output growth topped forecasts and stood at an over five-year high while policymakers forecast the recovery in the first quarter of this year would be more robust.
However, some analysts have said they are not convinced the economy is on sure footing, pointing to slowing growth in China and economic troubles in Europe.