(Reuters) - World business surveys on Thursday painted a picture of economic malaise stretching from Beijing to Berlin, adding to concerns that the world economy was slowing down.
The 17-country euro zone appeared headed for its second recession in three years. Financial data firm Markit said its Purchasing Managers' Index suggested the euro zone economy would shrink about 0.5 percent in the July-to-September quarter.
Europe's problems created headaches in other economies as well, particularly China's, which counts Europe as its single biggest export market. The HSBC Flash China manufacturing PMI fell to 47.8 in August, its lowest level since November.
By contrast U.S. manufacturing activity improved slightly this month, though new export orders declined for a third straight month because of reduced demand in Europe, while the pace of hiring slowed for the fifth month in a row.
A separate report showed the number of Americans applying for first-time jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week.
"The indicators taken as a whole indicate a material slowdown in the pace of the world economy," said economist Philip Shaw at Investec.