China's manufacturing sector has expanded at its fastest pace in two years, paving the way for increased demand for Australia's iron ore and coal output.
But that could put further upward pressure on the Australian dollar exchange rate, creating a headache for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), economists say.
The central bank is trying to balance a strong domestic currency against improving conditions in China and the United States, and a backdrop of a patchy domestic economy that shows little sign of a revival in the non-mining sector.
Commonwealth Securities economist Savanth Sebastian said the rise in the HSBC "flash" China manufacturing purchasing managers index, which is published ahead of official Chinese data, was encouraging.
"Not only is it encouraging for China, but also for Australia and the globe generally," Mr Sebastian said in a client note.
"The low point in the cycle appears to have passed, and further recovery is expected in China over 2013."
The index released on Thursday rose to 51.9 points in January, from 51.5 points in December.
It coincided with a cautiously optimistic report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which said recent policy actions in Europe and the US had lowered the risk of another economic crisis.
However, the agency also expects a more gradual upturn in global economic growth this year.
The IMF now sees global growth of 3.3 per cent in 2013, compared with its 3.4 per cent projection made in October, after a 3.2 per cent expansion in 2012.
It expects the euro zone to remain in recession before new policies take hold, while it urges the US to avoid excessive fiscal consolidation in the short term, and agrees on a credible medium term plan.
"As we go through the beginning of this year, we'll all be keenly looking at events in the global economy and certainly we'll all be hoping that policy makers do get the big decisions right," Treasurer Wayne Swan told reporters in Brisbane.
"They do have significant implications for growth and for revenues in the Australian economy."
Meanwhile, some domestic data has been disappointing, with residential land sales tumbling 17.8 per cent in the September quarter.
Housing Industry Association Harley Dale said that created uncertainty about a sustainable recovery in the new home building sector.
"(Sales) signal a rocky road for any new home building recovery in 2013," Dr Dale said.
CommSec's Mr Sebastian said the RBA would have hoped its recent round of rate cuts would prompt a fresh bout of home building, but a significant revival is yet to take place.
Still, the central bank does have scope to ease interest rates again if needed, after the release this week of another set of benign inflation figures.
Meanwhile, the latest Allianz future optimism index for December shows senior Australians aren't too happy about the 175 basis points of official rate cuts delivered by the RBA since November 2011.
Allianz Australia managing director Niran Peiris said the survey usually showed the 65-plus age group was more optimistic than most other Australians.
"The impact of falling interest rates on investment incomes and the effect this has on their financial circumstances appear to be taking a toll on their optimism about the future," Mr Peiris said in a statement.