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China's factories suffered their fastest drop in activity in a year in April as new orders shrank, a private business survey showed on Monday, hardening the case for fresh stimulus measures to halt a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. The latest indication of deepening factory woes raises the risk that second-quarter economic growth may dip below 7 percent for the first time since the depths of the global crisis, adding to official fears of job losses and local-level debt defaults. "China's manufacturing sector had a weak start to Q2, with total new business declining at the quickest rate in a year while production stagnated," said Annabel Fiddes, an economist at Markit. Both input and output prices declined for a ninth month, while manufacturers shed jobs for an 18th month, auguring poorly for an economy that grew at its weakest rate for six years in the first quarter.
European shares rose on Monday, led higher by Germany after upbeat factory activity, while the dollar steadied following signs the U.S. economy may be emerging from a recent soft patch. Euro zone powerhouse Germany's manufacturing sector lost some momentum in April but continued to expand while in France the sector's final PMI showed activity contracting and falling for a 12th successive month. Germany's DAX index rose 0.8 percent, outpacing France's CAC, which was up just 0.3 percent.
By Steve Scherer ROME (Reuters) - Around 6,800 migrants were rescued from overcrowded boats crossing to Europe over the weekend, including a mother who gave birth to a baby girl on an Italian navy ship, the coast guard said.