SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) — South Korean manufacturers’ business sentiment rose for the fourth straight month for May, despite lingering concerns about sluggish consumption amid the COVID-19 pandemic, central bank data showed Thursday.

The business sentiment index (BSI) for local manufacturers came to 98 for May, up from 91 for April, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The index measures manufacturers’ outlook on business conditions in the following month. A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists.

South Korea’s exports jumped 45.4 percent on-year in the first 20 days of April as shipments of chips, autos and oil products remained solid.

The country’s outbound shipments stood at US$30.9 billion in the April 1-20 period, compared with $21 billion a year earlier, according to the government data.

Exports, which account for half of the nation’s economy, advanced 16.6 percent on-year in March to extend their gains for the fifth consecutive month.

A modest recovery in exports and investment has helped put South Korea’s economy on a growth track.

The BSI for conglomerates came to 108 for May, up from 99 for April, while that of smaller companies reached 87, up from 82.

Meanwhile, the BSI of non-manufacturing businesses came to 82 for May, up from 78 for this month, the BOK said.

This file photo shows ships carrying containers docking at a port in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)