Korea: Manufacturing firms’ month-ahead sentiment rises to six-month high but remains pessimistic in May
Business sentiment among manufacturing firms rose to 72.0 in May from April’s 69.0. May’s result marked the best reading since November 2022. Despite the uptick, the index remained below the 100-threshold, indicating pessimism among businesses.
For the second month running, month-ahead business sentiment rose among export-oriented manufacturing firms, but only marginally and was the joint third-lowest since July 2020. Exporters continue to struggle with weak external demand, as indicated by merchandise export data for Q1. On the other hand, also for the second month running, month-ahead business sentiment rose more substantially among domestically-orientated firms. The improvement among these firms was likely linked to the seeming end of the Bank of Korea’s hiking cycle in February.