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South Korea's February manufacturing PMI steady at 20-month high

[SEOUL] South Korea's manufacturing activity and new export orders both grew for a second consecutive month in February, a private-sector survey showed on Monday, raising hopes for a rebound in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) on South Korea's manufacturing sector stood at a seasonally adjusted 51.1 in February, unchanged from the 20-month high set in January, data from Markit Economics showed.

A sub-index on new export orders received by South Korea's manufacturing firms was at 50.9 in February, edging down from 51.6 in January but staying above the 50-point market separating expansion from contraction.

Another sub-index showed output prices shrank for the 39th out of the past 40 months, indicating sustained downward pressure on prices amid debate about whether the country was at risk of sinking into deflation.

South Korea's central bank has said economic growth would rebound in the current quarter after slowing sharply to 0.4 per cent in the final quarter of 2014 from 0.9 per cent in the prior quarter.