* Euro zone, Chinese PMIs offer upbeat outlook
* Surveys suggest global economy healing
* But U.S. numbers show factory growth eased
By Jonathan Cable and Steven C. Johnson
LONDON/NEW YORK, Sept 23 A flood of new orders
gave a boost to European and Chinese firms in September although
weakness in U.S. factory activity tempered evidence of a healing
Purchasing managers' indexes, surveying thousands of
companies across the globe, showed a welcome pick-up in the euro
zone and China although slower growth in the United States'
manufacturing sector backed the Federal Reserve's decision last
week to maintain its support for the world's largest economy.
Financial data firm Markit said its "flash," or preliminary,
U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) retreated to
52.8 this month from 53.1 in August, confounding analysts'
forecasts of an improvement. A reading above 50 indicates
Output growth accelerated but new order inflows slowed,
suggesting "production growth is likely to weaken in the fourth
quarter unless demand picks up again in October," said Chris
Williamson, Markit's chief economist.
The Fed surprised markets last week by postponing a
reduction of its massive, $85-billion-a-month bond-buying
program, while downgrading its growth forecasts.
Conflicting views from policymakers of when the wind-down
will come has left markets uneasy, while the threat of another
fight on Capitol Hill over how much the United States can borrow
The uncertainty emanating from Washington took the shine off
a German election triumph for Angela Merkel which confirmed she
would remain Europe's dominant leader as the continent tries to
put its debt crisis to bed.
Still, the bloc should be able to take on its continuing
challenges from a position of improving economic growth, after
the region pulled out of recession in the second quarter.
Markit's Eurozone Flash Composite PMI jumped to 52.1 in
September from last month's 51.5, its highest since June 2011
and beating expectations for a reading of 51.9.
The pace of expansion in the bloc's dominant services sector
also beat all forecasts in a Reuters poll and the surveys
suggested the recovery was becoming more broad-based.
Business at firms in Germany, Europe's largest economy,
expanded at a faster pace than last month and in France, the
second biggest, activity increased - albeit marginally - for the
first time in 19 months.
Markit said the composite euro zone PMI, which surveys both
manufacturing and service sector companies across the region and
is seen as a good guide to economic growth, pointed to a 0.2
percent expansion this quarter, matching a Reuters poll taken
earlier this month.
"Today's PMI figures support the view that the euro zone
recovery is gradually becoming more entrenched and, as such,
further reduce the odds that the ECB will follow up its forward
guidance rhetoric with action," said Martin van Vliet at ING.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said earlier
this month monetary policy would remain accommodative for as
long as necessary, and that interest rates would remain at
present or lower levels for an extended period of time.
However, some analysts had speculated the bank may take
solid action to keep a lid on rising loan rates which could
inhibit the recovery.
New business in the bloc increased again this month, boding
well for October activity, and it was a similar story in China
where new export orders jumped to a 10-month peak.
Encouragingly, domestic demand also showed resilience, with
new orders rising to a five-month high.
The Chinese flash HSBC PMI climbed to 51.2 this month from
August's 50.1, hitting a high not seen since March. A breakdown
of the data showed 10 of 11 sub-indices rose in September.
"Today's figure adds to the raft of recent
better-than-expected Chinese data, indicating that the growth
slowdown has already run its course and industrial activity is
gaining traction," said Nikolaus Keis at UniCredit.
In July and August there were concerns that growth could be
slower than the government's target of 7.5 percent, which would
already be the slowest growth in more than two decades. Most
analysts now say the 2013 target will be met.