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China's factory activity expanded at its fastest pace in 18 months in July as new orders surged, a preliminary HSBC survey showed on Thursday, the latest indication that the economy is picking up as government stimulus measures kick in. "Economic activity continues to improve in July, suggesting that the cumulative impact of mini-stimulus measures introduced earlier is still filtering through," said Qu Hongbin, chief economist for China at HSBC. "We expect policy makers to maintain their accommodative stance over the next few months to consolidate the recovery." Mainland China stocks jumped after the PMI report while shares in the rest of Asia edged higher. The Australian dollar hit a three-week high on prospects of stronger exports to China.
By Faith Hung TAIPEI (Reuters) - The leaders of rivals China and Taiwan expressed condolences on Thursday for victims of a TransAsia Airways turboprop plane that crashed during a thunderstorm the previous day killing 48 people including two French nationals. The plane, a 70-seat ATR 72, crashed near the runway while trying to land on the small island of Penghu, west of Taiwan island, with 54 passengers and four crew on board. "Today is a very sad day in the history of Taiwan aviation," Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said in a statement. "All of Taiwan is grieving." China's president, Xi Jinping, who is on a Latin America tour, felt "deeply grieved" after learning the tragedy has caused heavy casualties, the mainland's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said in a statement, according to the Xinhua news agency.