Global economy

America's economy grew just 0.2 percent in the first quarter at an annualized rate compared with the previous three months. There was no single explanation, though bad winter weather and a labor dispute at California's ports played a part. With energy firms curtailing their exploration activities, investment in wells and mines slumped.

Brazil raised its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point to 13.25 percent, the highest level in six years. It was the latest in a long series of consecutive rate rises from the central bank, which is trying to tame soaring inflation. Meanwhile, Sweden's Riksbank stepped up its fight against deflation by enlarging its quantitative-easing program. But it surprised markets by leaving its main interest rate unchanged at minus 0.25 percent. Thailand's central bank reduced its key rate to 1.5 percent to boost the country's flagging economy.

Ferdinand Piëch shocked corporate Germany by resigning as Volkswagen's chairman. He went after the carmaker's board backed Martin Winterkorn, the chief executive, in a spat between the two. A grandson of the inventor of the Beetle, Piëch has been the driving force behind VW for the past two decades. His family retains considerable clout through its share holdings, giving it a say in choosing a new chairman.

In the latest example of a crackdown on graft, China's authorities accused the president of Sinopec, one of the country's oil giants, of "serious violations of discipline and law," code for corruption. Sinpoec said that Wang Tianpu had promptly resigned.

Mylan, a drug company in Pennsylvania, roundly rejected a $40 billion takeover bid from Teva, which is based in Israel. Mylan wants to pursue its own takeover of Perrigo, which is incorporated in Ireland, raising its offer this week to $36 billion — an approach that Perrigo immediately spurned.

BP kicked off the earnings season for big oil firms, reporting a profit of $2.6 billion for the first quarter. This was 20 percent lower than in the same period a year earlier, when Brent crude averaged $108 a barrel, compared with $54 in the first three months of 2015.

Ben Bernanke, who retired as chairman of the Federal Reserve in 2014, has joined the ranks of workers with multiple part-time jobs. Having already taken a position at Citadel, a hedge fund, this week he joined Pimco, an investment firm, as a senior adviser.

Political economy

At least 7,300 people were killed when an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck Nepal, one of Asia's poorest countries. Aid agencies struggled to reach remote areas in Gorkha district, near the border with Tibet, where many more bodies are expected to be found.

Iran seized a container ship in the Strait of Hormuz, which connects Gulf states to the open sea. Iran said the vessel, registered in the Marshall Islands, had been taken because of a commercial dispute.

The Greek government sidelined its controversial finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, removing him from responsibility for negotiations with finance ministers from the eurozone. Varoufakis' mercurial style had been blamed for a loss of trust in Greece's government, which is scrambling to come to an agreement to unlock billions of euros in bailout financing.

Britain's political parties began a frantic last week of campaigning ahead of an election on May 7, while new data showed the economy growing in the first quarter at its slowest pace in two years. If the polls are correct, no party will hold a majority on May 8, meaning another coalition government will have to be formed.

Venezuela's government decided to shorten the workday for public employees, from eight or nine hours to 5½, to save energy. Electricity, that is, not the workers'.