The gloomy trend in the economic news flow saw a respite on Thursday.
Japan kicked off the day by reporting an unexpected 0.2 percent increase in its all industry activity index in May.
The euro area followed up by reporting an unexpected acceleration in services and manufacturing growth, with the Markit composite index rising to 56.7 in July from 56.0 in June. Also, industrial orders unexpectedly rose by 3.8 percent in May while consumer confidence rose to a 26-month high in July.
US data were more downbeat but still provided some positive surprises. The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators fell by a less-than-expected 0.2 percent in June while existing home sales fell by a less-than-expected 5.1 percent in June.
Marring the day somewhat was a rise in initial jobless claims to a higher-than-expected 464,000 last week. Continuing claims, though, fell 223,000 to a lower-than-expected total of 4.49 million in the week ended July 10.
Strong corporate earnings reports rounded off the generally positive data flow on Thursday and helped stocks post good gains, the S&P 500 rising 2.25 percent by the end of the day.