"We still don't have second quarter growth numbers for the U.S. or euro zone. And although the Bundesbank said earlier this week that German growth could stagnate in the second quarter, what's at least encouraging from the PMI data is it seems any disappointment yet to be published might well be temporary."
Markit's manufacturing PMI for the United States is due later on Thursday and is also expected to show improving activity, rising to 57.5 from 57.3 last month.
China outlook still shaky
The PMI data coincided with the latest Reuters poll on the outlook for Asia, which suggested China will struggle to maintain these rates of growth into next year, partly because of risks a property market downturn might threaten the economy.
Analysts polled by Reuters expect the world's No. 2 economy to expand by 7.4 percent this year, slightly below the last reported rate of 7.5 percent. That would be its weakest growth in nearly a quarter of a century.
Some analysts say that more stimulus may be needed to offset any downdraft from falling property prices and activity. There are also increasing risks in the financial system, such as deteriorating credit quality.
Mainland China stocks jumped after the PMI report while shares in the rest of Asia edged higher. The Australian dollar hit a three-week high on prospects of stronger exports to China.
For the euro zone, where forecasters are even more gloomy about growth prospects, the latest PMI data were a bright spot and triggered a rally in the euro from an eight-month low.
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Markit said the data suggest quarterly economic growth of 0.4 percent in the current quarter if a similar pace is maintained over the next two months.
Lagging economies like Spain performed even better, with the largest monthly increase in business activity recorded since August 2007 accompanied by a similar surge in new orders growth.