* US regional manufacturing rises, as do jobless claims

* Poll: Economists see stronger-than-expected US recovery

* Geithner says US mulls further action to nurture economy

* Germany, Japan concerned on economic recovery's strength

* World policymakers set to meet in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Upbeat manufacturing data and weak labor market numbers painted a mixed picture of the U.S. economy on Thursday, while economists forecast it is recovering more robustly than expected from its worst recession in 70 years despite worries about a double-dip recession.

Officials in Germany and Japan expressed doubt about the global recovery's strength, adding to worries that emerging growth may falter without sustained government stimulus.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Thursday that the Obama administration this autumn will weigh further actions to nurture the U.S. economic recovery, including extensions of subsidized bond programs.

Some economists are saying it's over -- the recession is behind us, Geithner said. But the test for us is going to be: when are Americans back to work, when are people confident enough to put their savings to work and when are businesses confident enough to invest in new projects and invest in new ideas. And that is going to take time.

The U.S. economy is expected to return to growth in the current quarter while economic heavyweights such as Germany, Japan, France and Hong Kong have already emerged from recession, leading markets to rise and governments to consider winding down stimulus programs.

Three new reports underscored the uneven nature of the U.S. economic recovery.

Manufacturing in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region expanded in August, snapping a 10-month streak of contraction to reach its highest point since November 2007 and exceed even the most optimistic forecasts, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said.

Analysts said the survey, coupled with other manufacturing data, bodes well for the factory sector. Manufacturing accounts for about 11.5 percent of U.S. economic activity.

The index of leading economic indicators, which is supposed to forecast U.S. economic trends six to nine months ahead, rose in July for a fourth straight month, according to the Conference Board, a private research firm.

But a Labor Department report the illustrated the fragile state of the jobs market as new filings for state unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week.


After shrinking by 1.0 percent in the second quarter on an annualized basis, U.S. gross domestic product will grow 2.4 percent in the current quarter and 2.2 percent in the final three months of the year, according to a sample of around 70 economists surveyed in a Reuters poll. [ID:nLAG003672]

The recovery is now expected to be stronger than predicted last month when economists forecast growth of 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

The economists also estimated a 25 percent chance of a double-dip recession.

Reuters polls on Group of Seven industrialized economies also showed analysts had raised their views on the third quarter, but that many were subdued about 2010.

Led by financial stocks, U.S. stocks rose [.N] on Thursday, following rallies in Asian and European markets. Chinese stocks rose 4.5 percent in their second-biggest daily percentage gain of 2009. Crude oil prices rose slightly to near a seven-week high.

Recent talk of ending some measures taken to combat the worst financial crisis since the 1930s is being overtaken by words of caution on the rebound's strength before a summit of G20 leaders in Pittsburgh next month to discuss financial reform.

Policymakers from around the world are gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this week to mull how to prevent the crisis from recurring.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at 8 a.m. U.S. Mountain time (1400 GMT) on Friday to reflect on lessons learned and assess whether signs of recovery are lasting.

Bank of Japan board member Atsushi Mizuno said Japan's export recovery may slow, starting in the autumn, suggesting he may favor extending steps such as buying commercial paper and corporate bonds beyond December.

Global financial and economic conditions remain fragile and can't achieve a sustained recovery without support from governments and central banks, Mizuno said.

Germany's Finance Ministry said it was not clear whether the economy's return to growth would last. [ID:nLJ145035] Germany posted unexpected second quarter growth but economists said the bounce relied heavily on government stimulus.

The U.S. earnings picture was mixed. Packaged food makers H.J. Heinz Co (HNZ.N) and Hormel Foods Corp (HRL.N) both beat Wall Street estimates while retailer Sears Holding Corp (SHLD.O) posted a surprise loss, sending its shares down.

Hurricane Bill weakened a bit in the Atlantic, but was expected to regain power on a northwest ocean track and was forecast to reach Canada's Atlantic Maritime provinces by Sunday.