The business sentiment index (BSI) for manufacturers added 1 point over the month to 72 in October, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). The figure below 100 indicates pessimists outnumbering optimists.
Despite the increase, the reading hovered at a low level for a protracted period of time amid the continued global trade dispute and the global chip industry's downturn.
Export, which takes up about half of the South Korean economy, kept sliding for 10 straight months to September.
The BSI among non-manufacturers gained 2 points from a month earlier to 74 this month.
The BOK slashed its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point to a record low of 1.25 percent earlier this month to prop up the faltering economy.
The prospective BSI in all industries for November declined 2 points to 72 compared with the previous month amid the lingering external uncertainties.