The economic malaise in the euro zone is expected to cause continued hardship for Switzerland's manufacturers, although there are some indications that the outlook for the sector is improving, PMI data showed on Thursday.

The Swiss purchasing managers' index rose to a seasonally adjusted 46.1 points in October from 43.6 points in September. Although the print beat analysts' forecasts for 44.5 points, it remained below the 50 mark, which separates growth from contraction for the seventh month in a row.

"With one exception (March 2012) the PMI has now remained below the growth zone for over a year," said index compilers Credit Suisse and the SVME purchasing managers' association.

"However, the outlook has improved slightly in October; the accelerated downtrend of the previous two months has been broken."

(Reporting by Catherine Bosley and Caroline Copley; Editing by Susan Fenton)