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09 June 2017, 04:18 | Cedric Leonard
Manufacturing PMI of over 50.0 indicates expansion in the economy.
Indeed, the government report said activity levels for both small and medium-sized firms improved last month, coming in at 51.3 and 51% respectively.
Although South Korea's (EWY) manufacturing activity increased in April 2017, its pace of growth slowed amid tensions with its important trading partner, China (FXI).
UK May manufacturing PMI dipped only slightly to 56.7 from 57.3 in the previous month, broadly in line with expectations. Most other eurozone countries also posted growth, aside from Greece who saw yet another contraction as it struggles to deal with further austerity measures.
Softer growth in output reflected a relatively muted increase in total new orders during May.
"China's manufacturing sector has come under greater pressure in May and the economy is clearly on a downward trajectory", Zhengsheng Zhong, an economist at CEBM Group, said in a statement.
The manufacturing sector growth stood at 5.3 percent, down sharply from 12.7 percent growth reported in the corresponding quarter of last fiscal.
Lower new export work was a factor behind the decline in total new business while there were lower new orders in nearby Asian economies such as Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
Separately, South Korea's central bank survey on local manufacturers also showed more optimism for future business conditions, with the June business survey index rising to more than three-year high. However, the respective rates of inflation were strong in the context of historical data, with companies citing the impact of adverse currency movements on import costs.
Eduardo Gorab, an economist at Capital Economics, said the survey added to the evidence suggesting that the slowdown in the first quarter GDP was a blip rather than the start of a new, weaker trend.
Overall, orders were growing at the second-fastest rate in the past three years, just off April's peak - matching similar upbeat results in a survey by the Confederation of British Industry earlier this month.
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