South Korean manufacturers’ business confidence up

South Korean manufacturers’ business confidence rose for a second month in March from the previous month on the back of both seasonal factors and improvement in the economy, the central bank said Monday, but pessimists still outnumbered optimists.

The index of manufacturers’ outlook on business conditions reached 84 in March, up from 81 in February, according to a monthly survey by the Bank of Korea (BOK). The index measures manufacturers’ expectations for the coming month.

The figure marks the second straight month numbers have moved up and the highest figure since October of last year.

A reading below the benchmark 100 indicates more pessimists than optimists. The index is based on a nationwide survey of 2,503 companies.

“The gain in March compared to February was driven in part by improvement in the economy and also by seasonal factors,” said an economist at the BOK. “As manufacturers begin shipping new products in the spring, optimism usually gains ground in March.”

For March, more companies cited weak demand in the domestic economy and rising raw material prices as the main challenges to their businesses, while the number of enterprises that listed uncertainty and slumping exports as their prime obstacles dropped, according to the BOK survey.

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