Shaping up for another tricky vintage

Sun Apr 7, 2013 2:05pm EDT
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By Andy Bruce

LONDON (Reuters) - Just three months in, and already there is a nagging sense that 2013, like last year and the one before, will produce another disappointing vintage for the world economy.

Japan's $1.4 trillion monetary barrage stole the show last week, but it was the dismal turn in data from the United States and Europe that brought home how this year is panning out worse than many had hoped.

News that American employers hired far fewer staff in March than even the gloomiest predictions managed to derail the heady rise of stock markets over the last few months.

And business surveys from the euro zone confirmed recession there is dragging on, confounding hopes for improvement, with France's economy deteriorating sharply.

Hopes now rest with China and that signs of renewed vitality in the world's second-biggest economy can underpin the global economy.

"I'm hopeful we're not going to see the slide back that we've seen over the last couple of years," said Victoria Clarke, economist at Investec in London.

"We see China steadily plugging away, but certainly not a return to double-digit growth. That should at least support the U.S. and more broadly, the global economy."

Europe remains the weak link, and this week U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, in his first official trip as treasury chief, will visit France, Belgium and Germany to discuss ways European economies can stimulate growth.   Continued...