Eurozone economy picks up slightly in October, but France weighs by Geoffrey Smith @FortuneMagazine October 23, 2014, 5:17 AM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons The Eurozone got a modest lift Thursday as new surveys showed the economy picking up speed in October, thanks mainly to a rebound in Germany.There was also positive news from Spain, where the central bank said the economy likely grew by 0.5% in the third quarter, while unemployment fell to its lowest level in three years. The jobless rate fell to 23.1% in the three months through September, from 24.5% through June, as the country recovers slowly from the bursting of a real estate bubble. While that’s still painfully high, it was better than the 24.1% expected.The euro rose nearly half a cent against the dollar to $1.2660 in response, as markets tuned down their pessimism about the region’s economy slightly.Research firm Markit said the flash estimate for its closely-watched purchasing managers’ index for the Eurozone rose to 52.2 in October, from 52.0 in September. The manufacturing sub-index rose to 50.7 from 50.3, while the services sub-index was unchanged at 52.4. A level above 50 typically represents economic expansion. although hard data from the Eurozone in recent months have been slightly weaker than Markit’s surveys suggested.But Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist, warned against getting reading too much into the bounce in the headline number, saying that “misses the darker picture” in much of the underlying data.With France again a particular weak spot, new orders fell to near-stagnation, while employment was cut for the first time in nearly a year. Confidence also fell to its lowest level in over a year as prices fell at the fastest rate since 2009.“Growth is so anaemic that increasing numbers of companies are being forced into laying off staff and slashing prices in an attempt to cut costs and boost sales through discounting,” Williamson said.The Eurozone has once again become the biggest source of risk for the world economy, according to the International Monetary Fund, and global stock markets have come under pressure in recent weeks on fears that a slowdown in Europe will also drag down other regions.Germany had published some shockingly weak data for August, which economists said overstated the actual slowdown in the economy. Markit’s survey Thursday showed manufacturing output at its highest in three months, but services activity at a four-month low.However, there were modestly encouraging signs elsewhere in Markit’s surveys on Thursday, with both the Chinese and Japanese manufacturing PMIs also rising. Both economies have struggled recently, China with a falling real estate market and Japan with the effects of a sharp rise in sales tax in April. The Chinese index rose to 50.4 from 50.2, although Hongbin Qu HSBC chief economist for China, said that both domestic and external demand were slowing.Qu said the sign of Chinese weakness “warrants further policy easing” both from the government and the People’s Bank of China. So far, the central bank has restricted itself to injecting long-term loans into some of the country’s biggest banks, to help them cope with real estate-related issues.NOTE: This article has been updated to include the 3Q GDP estimate from the Spanish central bank.