US stock markets hit record highs again on Thursday boosted by a sharp rise in consumer spending, falling unemployment claims and strong earnings from some of the largest US companies.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 256 points in morning trading, passing 34,000 for the first time after a slew of good news about the economy. The S&P also hit an intraday high.
The US economy appears to be rebounding strongly from the Covid-19 pandemic as vaccination rates surge and businesses reopen.
The commerce department said retail spending increased by nearly 10% in March as federal stimulus funds made their way to households and pandemic-related restrictions were lifted. The gains were broad-based, with restaurants and bars and retail, two sectors hit hard by the pandemic, gaining ground.
The retail news came as the number of people filing for unemployment benefits hit a pandemic low. According to the latest figures from the labor department 576,000 people filed unemployment claims last week, down from 769,000 a week earlier. While the number is still twice as high as it was before the coronavirus arrived in the US, it marks a low point in claims for the pandemic.