Feb.03 - Manufacturers around the world enjoy a solid start to the year as order books swell, marred only by Chinese factories struggled for growth and an ongoing downturn in France. Joanna Partridge reports
Another sign the tide is turning in Europe? New orders flooded in to euro zone factories in January, giving them their strongest month since mid-2011. And that's led them to take on staff for the first time in 2 years. Germany led the increase in Markit's business surveys, and there was also a pick-up in the periphery. It wasn't all good news globally - China's factory growth hit a six-month low in January, increasing worries of an economic slowdown. And the downturn in France took the shine off the results from the rest of the euro zone. It remains a concern, says Brenda Kelly from IG. SOUNDBITE: Brenda Kelly, Market Analyst, IG, saying (English): "France is clearly something of a problem there and of course it's become a little bit weaker over the last two months. But there is still a feeling that the unemployment levels in the euro zone and of course the inflationary concerns that are there will have to be dealt with if we are going to continue on a sustainable path. But I do feel that we'll probably see a bit of a bounce in the equities concerned today." The upturn in manufacturing provides some optimism in the region. That's needed, after data showed unemployment in the bloc remained stuck near a record high of 12% in December, for the third month running. And fears of deflation persist, after consumer price inflation dropped unexpectedly in January.