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Business sentiment turns negative for Feb.

Jan. 27, 2011 - 19:21 By 황장진
Korea’s business sentiment for February turned negative for the first time in 17 months amid rising prices of imported raw materials and signs of rate hikes, a poll showed Thursday.

The Business Survey Index (BSI) for February came in at 98.0, compared with 101.4 in January, according to the Federation of Korean Industries, the largest industry lobby in Korea.

The BSI reading has stayed above 100 since September 2009.

A reading above 100 means optimists outnumber pessimists with a reading below the mark meaning more companies see worsening business conditions in the upcoming month. The monthly poll is conducted on the country’s 600 largest businesses.

“Such a drop appears to have been caused by concerns that a delay of the local market’s recovery may keep the demand down and that an expected rise of raw materials, such as oil, and the recent hike of the key interest rate by the central bank may pull up costs,” the FKI said in a press release.

The FKI noted the continuing outbreak and spread of the foot-and-mouth disease and the unprecedentedly long cold spell that is crippling the country’s crop farms were also delaying a complete recovery of the local market by pulling down both supply and demand.

The electronics industry is one of only a few industrial sectors to register a positive outlook for February with the BSI of both the manufacturing and service industries dropping below 100 to 97.4 and 98.8, respectively.

The BSI for the textile industry showed one of the largest drops as it fell from 104.3 in January to 85.7, according to the FKI (Yonhap News)