SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Yonhap) — South Korean smaller firms’ business outlook rose for the second consecutive month for November on loosened coronavirus curbs and a recovery in exports, a poll showed Thursday.
The survey of 3,150 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) showed that the small business health index (SBHI) stood at 74 for the coming month, up 2.8 points from October.
It marked the second consecutive month of increase. The index gained to 71.2 for October from 67.9 in September.
Yet the November tally was still below par. A reading below 100 indicates pessimists outnumber optimists. The survey was taken by the Korea Federation of SMEs from Oct. 15-22.
The federation said the November SBHI got a boost from relaxed social distancing measures and an improvement in South Korea’s exports.
Emboldened by a slowdown in new coronavirus infections, Seoul eased its virus curbs to the lowest level on a three-tier scale on Oct. 12 following about two months of tougher restrictions nationwide.
South Korea’s exports climbed 7.7 percent on-year in September on increased shipments of chips and automobiles, marking the first annualized gain in seven months.
According to the survey, the SBHI for the manufacturing sector came to 81 for November, up 4.1 points from October, while that for non-manufacturing companies also rose 2.2 points to 70.4.
Smaller firms’ capacity utilization rate averaged 68.9 percent in September, up 1.3 percentage points from the previous month.