LONDON — Chinese shares led global markets higher on Thursday after surveys showed the country’s manufacturing sector is improving and ahead a raft of U.S. jobs data that could affect to race to the White House.

Investors were breathing a sigh of relief that Chinese manufacturing is growing again after contracting in recent months. China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, has slowed this year and fears of a sharp downturn have weighed on the outlook for the global recovery.

But those concerns were eased somewhat by the two surveys, boosting stocks, particularly in Asia. In China, Shanghai Composite index rose over 1.7 percent, to 2,104.4, its biggest jump in three weeks, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.8 percent, to 21,821.8.

“Marginal Chinese manufacturing growth for the first time since July has offered investors a modicum of support this morning,” said Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at stockbroker Interactive Investor.

Germany’s DAX was up 0.6 percent at 7,303 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.6 percent to 3,450. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.4 percent higher at 5,807.

Wall Street was poised for a flat opening, with investors awaiting a raft of U.S. economic figures, including weekly jobless claims and the ADP private payrolls survey. The monthly manufacturing survey from the Institute for Supply Management will also garner interest.

The jobs data come just a day before official nonfarm payrolls data for October. The figures, which often set the market tone a week or two after their release, may have an even bigger impact this month as they come just days ahead of next Tuesday’s closely-fought presidential election.

“With the election and clean-up to hurricane Sandy on the agenda, we expect trading to be even more cautious than normal,” said Will Hedden, a sales trader at IG.

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On Wednesday, trading on Wall Street resumed after a two-day suspension due to the storm. As expected, trading was volatile as investors digested the economic impact. Many New Yorkers are still struggling to return to work due to transportation disruptions and power outages.

Trading is pretty tepid elsewhere. The euro was down only 0.1 percent on the day at $1.2951, while the price of the benchmark oil contract in New York was up 16 cents at $86.40 a barrel.

Earlier in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index reversed early losses to gain 0.2 percent, to 8,946.9. South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.7 percent at 1,898.4.