SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s business confidence climbed for the ninth consecutive month in February amid growing hopes of an economic recovery, a poll by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) showed Tuesday.

The OECD business confidence index (CSI) came to 99.5 for Asia’s fourth-largest economy last month, up 0.3 point from the prior month, according to the survey by the group of 37 mostly rich and advanced nations.

The OECD index for South Korea has been on the rise since June when it edged up to 96.6 following a five-month losing streak due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The index measures business conditions for the six months ahead. A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists.

The February tally is still below par, but the recent upturn is seen as reflecting rising expectations that the South Korean economy may improve gradually down the road.

The last time South Korea’s BCI rose above the 100 mark was June 2011, when the reading stood at 100.2.

South Korea’s BCI was the 19th highest among 29 OECD members with comparable figures, with the OECD average reaching 100.

Thirteen members, including Chile, Germany and the United States, had BCIs higher than the benchmark 100 in February, with Chile having the highest tally of 102.4. Comparable figures were 101.4 for Germany, 100.8 for the U.S. and 100.1 for Spain.