SEOUL, (Reuters) - South Korea’s factory activity expanded at the strongest pace in 55 months in November as domestic demand improved, a private business survey showed on Friday.
The Nikkei/Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI) on South Korea’s manufacturing sector rose to 51.2, its highest level since April 2013, from 50.2 in October.
The reading stayed above the 50-point level, which separates expansion from contraction, suggesting that activity rose for the third straight month.
The sub-index for total new orders rose for a sixth straight month, which panelists attributed to more business from local customers. New export orders actually shrank slightly in November.
“Firms boosted production in line with new business inflows. However, with new export orders remaining broadly unchanged from October, this suggests that demand was driven by domestic customers,” said Joe Hayes, an economist at IHS Markit.
The Bank of Korea’s survey on consumer sentiment also showed surprisingly strong economic growth at home sparked optimism with the index surging to near a seven-year high.
However, despite a rosier view about future business prospects, manufacturers continued to shed jobs for a third straight month in November, the PMI survey showed.
Reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Kim Coghill