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Recovery Quickens as U.S. Retail Sales Soar, Jobless Claims Ease

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The U.S. economys comeback is firing on all cylinders with employment, retail spending and manufacturing exhibiting strong gains. Thursdays barrage of economic data showed that some parts of the economy, like retail sales, have returned to or exceeded prepandemic levels. Applications for unemployment benefits, while still elevated, hit the lowest in 13 months. The rebound in demand reflected a wave of business reopenings last month, increased vaccination rates and a fresh round of stimulus checks to households. In addition, the bounce back follows a harsh winter and surge in Covid19 cases in many parts of the U.S. that curbed activity.

The 9.8 increase in March retail sales was the secondlargest in government data back to 1992. A separate report showed initial state jobless claims fell by almost 200,000 last week, partly reflecting a significant drop in California. Other reports Thursday showed manufacturing is powering ahead too. A Federal Reserve Bank of New York index of factory activity in the state jumped to the highest level since 2017. A Philadelphia Fed manufacturing gauge improved to the strongest reading since 1973. Additionally, production at U.S. factories increased in March by the most in eight months following the weatherrelated setback in February and an April measure of homebuilder sentiment improved.

U.S. stocks rose to record highs and Treasury yields fell as investors cheered the data and earnings reports. While the economy has shown signs of roaring…

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