South Korea manufacturing activity gains momentum

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 February, 2014, 3:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 February, 2014, 3:02pm

South Korea’s manufacturing activity expanded last month at its briskest level in eight months, a private-sector survey showed on Monday, tracking a pick-up in new export orders and attesting to the economy continuing to gather momentum.

The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers index (PMI) of South Korea’s manufacturing sector rose to a seasonally adjusted 50.9 from 50.8 in December, Markit Economics said, hitting its highest reading since May in the sixth consecutive monthly gain.

The index also stood above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction for the fourth straight month, underscoring continued improvement in manufacturing activity as data showed that December’s factory output grew at the fastest pace in four-and-a-half years.

The sub-index for new export orders grew to a seasonally adjusted 51.8 from 50.7 in December, signalling growing external demand.

“Manufacturing conditions continue to improve in Korea, boosted by stronger new orders on the external front,” HSBC economist Ronald Man said in a statement.

“Payrolls also expanded for the third consecutive month. This suggests that Korea is on track for a gradual export-led recovery.”

Government data showed on Saturday that South Korea’s exports shrank an annual 0.2 per cent last month, as the Lunar New Year holiday break reduced the number of working days.

Average exports per day last month stood at US$2.07 billion, easing slightly from US$2.09 billion in December and suggesting no serious deterioration in underlying external demand for local manufacturers.