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Global economy ends first half on a high: PMI

LONDON (Reuters) - The global economy ended the first half on a high as business activity picked up in June, with new orders pouring in at their fastest rate in over three years, a survey showed on Thursday.

JP Morgan's Global All-Industry Output Index, produced with Markit, rose to 55.4 from May's 54.2, holding above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction for the 21st month running and the highest reading since February 2011.

"Gains in the levels of the new orders and employment indices suggest that the underlying trend in global economic conditions remains solid moving forward, pointing to above trend growth of global GDP in the second half of the year," said David Hensley, a director at JP Morgan.

The new orders subindex rose to 56.0 from 54.3, also the highest since February 2011.

Britain and the United States were again the leading drivers of the growth, while the recovery in the euro zone slowed. There were also signs Asia was emerging from its soft patch, JP Morgan said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Cable; Editing by Hugh Lawson)