LONDON (AP) -- Industrial orders in the 16-nation euro zone rose 3.1 percent in June from the quarter before, official data showed Monday, suggesting the manufacturing sector could be emerging from recession.
The European statistics agency Eurostat said new orders -- a key gauge of industry's future growth -- rose in both France and Germany, which emerged from recession in the second quarter, as well as Ireland, which has been among the hardest-hit by the global economic crisis.
The figure was almost twice as strong as the 1.6 percent monthly increase that analysts were expecting.
Any recovery will begin from a far lower base, however, as activity was still much weaker than last year with new orders down 25.1 percent over 12 months. Experts were braced for an even bigger fall of 28.6 percent.
The picture was gloomier across the wider 27-nation European Union, where industrial orders were down 0.4 percent on the month, and 24 percent on the year.
Drops in Denmark, Lithuania and Poland offset increases in Bulgaria and Hungary.