The US markets closed higher on Thursday, with equities advancing in a broad rally that gave the Dow Jones Industrial Average its longest winning streak since February. Technology stocks led the day's gains, extending this month's trend. But Wall Street was also supported by the latest economic data, which suggested the economy was healthy, but not growing so quickly that it was at risk of overheating.
On the economy front, the US took in $510 billion in receipts in April and spent $296 billion, leaving the Treasury with a record monthly surplus of $214 billion. The prior record, set in April 2001, was about $190 billion. Tax receipts poured in during April, when tax returns and certain taxpayers' quarterly estimated payments are due. Individual receipts climbed by $66 billion over last April, something the Congressional Budget Office has attributed to stronger-than-expected income growth in 2017, as well as larger-than-anticipated payments for economic activity in 2018. Spending rose in April as well, climbing 8% thanks to higher payments on Social Security and interest on the public debt.
Meanwhile, the number of people who applied for US unemployment benefits in early May stood at 211,000 for the second straight week, keeping initial jobless claims near a 49-year low. New claims were flat at 211,000 in the seven days ended May 5. The average of new claims over the past month, meanwhile, fell by 5,500 to 216,000 to touch the lowest level since December 1969. The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, rose by 30,000 to 1.79 million. The consumer price index rose 0.2% in April, a tick below the forecast of economists polled. A more closely followed measure that strips out food and energy, known as the core CPI, rose a smaller 0.1% last month. That was half as much as Wall Street expected. The consumer price index has risen 2.5% in the past 12 months - the highest rate in 14 months. Yet the yearly increase in the core rate was unchanged at 2.1%, a softer than expected reading that's likely to give comfort to a Federal Reserve on inflation watch.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 196.99 points or 0.80 percent to 24,739.53, the Nasdaq gained 65.07 points or 0.89 percent to 7,404.98, and the S&P 500 was up by 25.28 points or 0.94 percent to 2,723.07.