SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) — South Korean manufacturers’ business sentiment rose in February, but concerns about sluggish consumption persisted amid the coronavirus pandemic, central bank data showed Thursday.

The business sentiment index (BSI) for local manufacturers came to 81 for February, up from 77 for January, 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.

In December last year, South Korea struggled to contain a third wave of coronavirus infections, with daily new cases hovering around 1,000.

This week, South Korea has reported about 400 or 500 daily new infections, although health authorities have warned against complacency.

This photo, taken on June 4, 2020, shows stacks of import-export cargo containers at South Korea’s largest seaport in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korea has been applying Level 2.5 social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area, home to half of its 51.6 million population, and Level 2 rules in the rest of the country since Dec. 8 in a desperate bid to stem a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The index gauging manufacturers’ assessment of current business conditions came in at 85 in January, up from 82 in December last year.

The BSI for conglomerates came to 87 for February, up from 85 for January, while that of smaller companies reached 73, up from 67.

Meanwhile, the BSI of non-manufacturing businesses came to 70 for February, up from 64 for this month, the BOK said.