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China's factory activity expanded at its fastest in 18 months in July as new orders surged while the euro zone's private sector also perked up, suggesting the global economy started the second half of 2014 on a solid footing. While China is relying on increased government stimulus to steer its economy away from reliance on exports and towards consumer spending, Europe has taken the opposite approach, combining fiscal austerity with near-zero interest rates. A comparable survey of private sector activity in the euro zone also rose more than expected, to 54.0 from 52.8, even without signs of the resurgence in inflation from dangerously low levels that the European Central Bank is trying to engineer. Taken together with data pointing to a solid expansion for the United States, and with most stock markets rallying or near record highs, the reports suggest the world economy is in a brighter spot.