The global economy is plodding ahead in fits and starts as the largest countries struggle to achieve consistent growth.
Europe is faltering again. Japan is suddenly surging. China is cooling. The U.S. is strengthening.
In the background, central banks are aiming to administer just the right amount of stimulus — not too much, not too little. Their efforts have yet to benefit many ordinary people facing job shortages and stagnant wages.
The unevenness of the global recovery was thrown into sharp relief Thursday, when the 18 European nations that use the euro reported unexpectedly weak growth for the year’s first three months. A separate report said Japan’s economy grew in that same quarter at the fastest pace in nearly three years.
Fresh data from the United States was mixed: Factory output declined. But fewer and fewer people are seeking unemployment benefits, a sign that solid hiring should continue.