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'Rare bit of good news from eurozone'

New cars waiting for shipment from Germany
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Some reaction to those better-than-expected eurozone PMI figures.

Rupert Thompson, head of research at wealth managers Kingswood, said: “The eurozone PMI data in August were not as weak as had been expected, providing a rare bit of good news on the eurozone economy.

"Business confidence unexpectedly recovered a little, both in the eurozone and also Germany which has led the slowdown in recent months.

"Even so, business confidence remains low and growth weak and the ECB still looks all but certain to cut rates next month. A re-starting of its quantitative easing programme is also quite possible."

Eurozone business growth edges higher

Factory in Spain
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Eurozone business growth picked up slightly in August, aided by brisk services activity and manufacturing contracting at a slower pace.

However, the spectre of trade wars knocked future expectations to their weakest in over six years, a survey has shown.

The IHS Markit's Eurozone Composite Flash Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) - seen as a barometer of economic health, climbed in August to 51.8 from 51.5 in July and above 51.2 predicted by economists.

Anything above 50 indicates growth.

Russia launches rocket carrying robot to International Space Station
The robot, named Fedor, will perform daily tasks during its 10 days on the International Space Station.

Life-sized robot launched into space

Russia launches rocket carrying robot to International Space Station
Russia has launched a rocket carrying a life-sized robot to the International Space Station. 

During its 10 days at the ISS, Fedor will learn new skills such as "connecting and disconnecting electric cables, using standard items from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher," said Alexander Bloshenko, the Russian space agency's director for prospective programmes and science.

'The world is upside down' for investors

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Euro coins and the Dax index
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If you needed proof that investors are living in strange times, look no further than Germany's fund raising efforts on Wednesday.

Germany sold a 30-year bond at 0% interest.

What's more, institutions were so eager they ended up paying Germany more than the face value of the bonds. Why?

"The world is upside down," says Alberto Gallo, fund manager at Algebris Investments.

"Investors are essentially going to lose money over a 30-year period because they are going to get back a bit less than they paid. But actually now every government is borrowing below inflation"

He says: "The reason why this is happening when investors buy bonds instead of stocks, is because they're worried about inflation. So we have been in a 10-year recovery after the financial crisis, where central banks lowered interest rates, trying to spur growth, and also bought assets - the so-called quantitative easing...but this hasn't really worked.

"It's been a bit like central banks pushing the accelerator and governments pulling the handbrake at the same time. Governments are worrying about a lot of political issues including Brexit, but they're not really pushing for growth."

Good morning!

Welcome to Business Live.

After a positive meeting between Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding Brexit and the Irish backstop, the UK Prime Minister is likely to get a chillier reception when he has talks with French President Emmanuel Macron today.

We'll be watching for market reaction.

Speaking of Europe, Germany will show how its manufacturing sector is performing later this morning with the release of new data. The EU's economic powerhouse recently revealed that GDP shrank in the second quarter.

Among the companies reporting financials on Thursday are Mecca Bingo-owner Rank Group as well as Premier Oil and construction firm John Laing.

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