S.Korea Jan manufacturing PMI edges lower to 49.9
SEOUL, Feb 1 (Reuters) - South Korea's manufacturing sector activity marginally shrank in January after a small rise in December but new export orders received grew for the first time in eight months, a private survey showed on Friday.
The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) of South Korea's manufacturing sector edged down to a seasonally adjusted 49.9 in January from 50.1 in December, just off 50 separating growth from contraction, Markit Economics said in a statement.
In December, the index rose above the 50-point mark for the first time in seven months, but analysts and government officials have said a firm rebound in South Korea's manufacturing sector would take longer due to weak global demand.
Meanwhile, Markit said the new export orders received sub-index rose to a seasonally adjusted 51.3 in January from 48.9 in December - the first monthly expansion since May 2012.
The improved new export orders reading is a welcome sign of strengthening recovery in global demand as South Korea is home to some of the world's leading suppliers of smartphones, cars, ships and electronic goods.
The orders data also supports an assessment by analysts and government officials in South Korea that any immediate impact on exports from the won's rapid appreciation against the major currencies, especially the Japanese yen, would be very limited.
South Korea's economy is widely seen to have turned a corner by the end of the third quarter but both policymakers and analysts predict a very gradual recovery as advanced economies continue to struggle.
(Reporting By Se Young Lee; Editing by Choonsik Yoo and Eric Meijer)