LONDON (Reuters) - Global manufacturing activity contracted at a less severe pace in March, according to a global index that rose to its highest in five months thanks to similar rises in survey data for the euro zone, U.S. and Britain.
The global index, produced by JP Morgan on Wednesday with research and supply management organisations rose to 37.2 in March from 35.8 in February. That was the highest level since last October and the third month in a row it has risen.
However, it still remained well below the 50.0 mark that divides growth from contraction, pointing to an ongoing severe recession and a sharp pick-up in job losses to come.
Earlier data showed U.S. factory activity held at low levels, but with a slowing in pace of decline.
“Although index values remain well below those consistent with an outright recovery, they do suggest that manufacturers may be passed the worst of the recession,” said David Hensley at JP Morgan in a release.
The employment index rose to 35.8 in March from 35.0 the previous month, but still marked the eleventh successive month that staffing levels were cut.
The index combines survey data from countries including the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia.
Reporting by Nigel Davies; Editing by Ron Askew