Output growth picked up in major emerging markets in December led by India, but was subdued overall with China seen slowing further and Brazil likely falling back to recession, an HSBC survey showed on Wednesday.
The HSBC Emerging Markets Index rose to a three-month high of 51.7, from November's six-month low of 51.2.
HSBC said the number still signalled only a modest rate of expansion. The EMI averaged 51.4 over 2014 as a whole, the lowest for a calendar year since the series began in late-2005.
"In China, the rate of growth slowed from an already lacklustre pace, suggesting the country's economic growth looks set to weaken from the 7.3% annual pace seen in the third quarter, its lowest since early-2009," said Chris Williamson, Markit chief economist.
"Brazil and Russia meanwhile both contracted in December. Official GDP data showed Brazil pulling out of recession in the third quarter, but the PMIs signalled contraction for the third month running in December, suggesting the country suffered a renewed downturn in the fourth quarter," Williamson said.
Data by broad sector showed ongoing subdued rates of growth in both manufacturing and services, although the latter posted the fastest expansion in three months.
China registered further below-par output growth, while India's tentative recovery continued. Brazil registered a decline in activity for the eighth time in nine months, albeit at a weaker rate, while Russia endured a steepening downturn, the survey showed.
HSBC said overall inflationary pressures across emerging markets remained subdued, mainly reflecting falling input and output prices in China.
Russia, however, witnessed surging inflationary pressures linked to the weak rouble, with input prices up at the fastest rate in 79 months and output price inflation hitting a series-record high.
New orders and employment in emerging markets both increased in December, but at historically weak rates. The level of outstanding business declined for the sixth month running, the survey showed.
The outlook for the global emerging markets remained muted in December.
The HSBC Emerging Markets Future Output Index, which tracks firms' expectations for activity in 12 months' time, picked up from November's record low on the back of strengthening sentiment in Brazil and India. But it was still the second- lowest to date, reflecting record-low sentiment in China and Russia.
HSBC said Russian service providers were the most pessimistic since the survey began in October 2001. The future output index for Russia sank to a new low in December, and below 50.0 for the first time.