U.S. factories rebound, but Europe, China falter

Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:38am EST
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By Jonathan Cable and Steven C. Johnson

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. factory output rebounded this month but hiring remained sluggish, while business activity across the euro zone and at China's manufacturers slowed, surveys showed on Thursday.

The data underscored the fragile nature of the global recovery and the difficulties still facing the world's biggest economies.

Manufacturing activity and output rebounded in the United States this month, according to the Markit "flash," or preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, after hitting a one-year low in October.

But the overall pace of growth remained modest and "is barely generating any employment growth" in the sector, said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.

While growth at German businesses picked up, activity in France tumbled, underlining the lopsided nature of the euro zone's recovery from recession.

And patchy recoveries in developed countries are sapping demand for China's manufactured goods. Overseas demand fell to a three-month low in November, bolstering views that the second largest economy in the world would lose steam this quarter.

"This is evidence to suggest the European economy is struggling to gain momentum and the Chinese numbers certainly were not great," said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank.

"There will be an okay rebound in the course of the next year but not as strong as perhaps we once thought. A lot is going to depend on how the United States holds up."   Continued...

Ford Assembly workers install a battery onto the chassis of a Ford Focus Electric vehicle at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook