Europe's factories starting to recover, Asia's pain worsens

Asia's factory pain deepened in May as the slump in global trade worsened.

Export powerhouses Japan and South Korea suffered the sharpest declines in business activity in more than a decade.

And a series of surveys released on Monday (June 1) suggest any rebound will be some time off.

Japan's factory activity shrank at the fastest pace since 2009.

And official data showed South Korea extended its exports plunge for a third straight month.

India's factory activity also contracted sharply.

It was a slightly different picture in China though.

Factory activity unexpectedly returned to growth.

China's Caixin/Markit Manufacturing PMI hit 50.7 last month, marking the highest reading since January.

The easing of restrictions allowed companies to get back to work and clear outstanding orders.

But with many of China's trading partners still restricted, its new export orders remained in contraction.

In Europe, there was talk of the worst being over for the region's factories.

After crashing to its lowest reading in the survey's nearly 22-year history in April, IHS Markit's Manufacturing PMI recovered slightly last month.

It rose to 39.4 from April's 33.4.

It's still a long way from the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction though.

With many countries starting to get back up and running, equity markets are rallying on hopes of a swift return to growth.

But many economists see a long, slow climb out of the trough in global activity.

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