SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's manufacturing activity expanded in March as new export orders picked up, a private sector survey showed on Tuesday, suggesting that the economy continues to grow at a modest pace.
The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) of South Korea's manufacturing sector rose to a seasonally adjusted 50.4 in March from 49.8 in February, Markit Economics said in a statement.
The index rose above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction for the fifth time in six months, lending support to the South Korean finance ministry's expectations for industrial output in March to rebound from a sharper-than-expected monthly contraction in February.
The Bank of Korea expects gross domestic product growth to accelerate to 3.8 percent this year from 3.0 percent in 2013, and the details in the PMI survey showed encouraging signs for the economy.
A sub-index for new export orders for March edged up to a seasonally adjusted 50.7 from 50.5 in February, hinting at a gradual improvement in external demand which is crucial for spurring growth.
Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Shri Navaratnam