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Factories hard at work as strong order books buoy global manufacturing data

MANUFACTURING activity in the world’s largest economies jumped in December, underpinning the tentative signs of recovery from the financial crisis, data showed yesterday.

The US manufacturing index grew for a fifth consecutive month to 55.9, beating forecasts of 54.3 and hitting its highest level since April 2006.

Meanwhile, factory activity in the UK expanded at its fastest pace in more than two years, buoyed by a sharp jump in new orders, the CIPS/Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed. The index rose to 54.1 last month after a surprise fall to 51.8 in November.

“December PMI data signal a positive end to a tumultuous year for manufacturers,” said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit.

Manufacturing data for the 16-country eurozone also improved last month as the region’s PMI ticked up to 51.6 from 51.2 in November.

And China’s factories followed suit, cranking up production in December on the back of bulging order books, with the HSBC PMI for the country rising to 56.1, the highest since the survey began in April 2004.