S.Korea March manufacturing outlook edges down to 5-mth low

SEOUL Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:00pm EST

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SEOUL Feb 28 (Reuters) - South Korean manufacturers' assessment of business conditions for March edged down slightly, a central bank survey showed on Friday - reflecting the fragility of the economic recovery.

The Bank of Korea's manufacturing business survey index for March ticked down to a seasonally adjusted 82 from 84 for February and January, which was the lowest since October last year.

A reading below 100 indicates that the number of companies expecting deterioration in business conditions for the coming month outnumber those seeing improvement.

The index has failed to rise above 100 since February 2011, but it has slowly risen from the 70s last year as the domestic economy gathered momentum.

The central bank last month forecast South Korea's economy would grow 3.8 percent this year compared with 2.8 percent growth posted in 2013, but uncertainties lie ahead due to sluggishess in advanced countries such as the United States.

Manufacturers in the survey continued to note their biggest concerns for business were weak domestic demand and economic uncertainty.

More respondents pointed to increasing competition as a hurdle to overcome but fewer cited weak exports as an impediment, compared to the previous month's survey.

The central bank said it surveyed more than 1,500 manufacturers in 23 major industries nationwide from Feb. 14 to Feb. 21. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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