SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) — Business sentiment in South Korea turned weak for December due to a recent resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, a local think tank said Wednesday.

The business survey index (BSI) of the country’s top 600 companies by sales came to 98.9 for December, down from 99.5 for November, the Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) said in a statement.

“Business sentiment is expected to remain weak until next year due to uncertainties involving the pandemic. The government’s aggressive policy support is required to prop up the economy,” a KERI official said.

A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists, while a figure above the benchmark means the opposite.

The BSI has stayed below 100 for 31 consecutive months after reaching 100.3 in May 2018, said KERI, a research institute under the Federation of Korean Industries, South Korea’s biggest business lobby.

KERI’s analysis for this month gave an index of 98, down from 98.7 a month earlier due to the prolonged pandemic, it said.

KERI said 356 out of the 600 companies responded to the survey, which was conducted from Nov. 12-19.