Index shows boost for eurozone

Eurozone manufacturing unexpectedly expanded in July for the first time in two years, led by Germany, adding to signs the bloc’s economy is emerging from a record-long recession.

A manufacturing index based on a survey of purchasing managers rose to 50.1 from 48.8 in June, London-based Markit Economics said.

The encouraging news contrasted with China, the world’s second-largest economy, where manufacturing weakened more than estimated in July, a separate Markit report showed.

“The better-than-expected PMI figures clearly support the notion that the eurozone economy as a whole is leaving recession behind,” said Martin van Vliet, an economist at ING Bank in Amsterdam.

“The monetary stimulus from the ECB, the earlier pick-up in the world economy, and the overall slower pace of fiscal austerity have finally managed to stop the economic contraction.”

The eurozone economy, which has contracted for six quarters, probably stagnated in the three months through June and will return to growth this quarter, according to a separate survey of economists.

The IMF forecasts the bloc’s economy to shrink this year.

Markit reported that the manufacturing gauge for Germany, Europe’s largest economy, moved into growth territory for the first time since February.

In France, the manufacturing index rose to 49.8 from 48.4 in June, Markit said in a separate report.

ECB president Mario Draghi said earlier this month that eurozone export growth “should benefit from a gradual recovery in global demand”, though the “risks surrounding the economic outlook” remain “on the downside.”

The ECB’s benchmark rate is at a record low 0.5%.

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