Record high retail sales in March and sharply lower jobless claims in the USA show strong positive momentum from mass vaccination in the country, reduced quarantine restrictions and government incentives with direct payments of $1400 to the population.
US retail sales in March showed a strong jump of 9.8%, while economists had expected a 5.9% increase. This is the best performance since the pandemic began and contrasts with the 2.7% decline in February. Retail sales growth in the last 12 months (through the end of March) was a record 27.7%.
Market analysts point to the positive impact of the widespread vaccination of the US population against COVID-19, the lifting of most quarantine restrictions, with warm weather also contributing to a recovery in retail sales in the restaurant and clothing industries. Government stimulus: The $1400 direct payment and an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits are also seen as having had a positive effect on sales of electronics and other goods.
The biggest increase in sales last month in the US was in clothing shops, with total industry sales up 18.3%.
Car dealerships had a record-breaking 15.1% increase in sales. Restaurant and bar sales were up 13.4%, although still 1.8% lower than March 2020.
While Americans increased their purchases at electronics and appliances shops by 10.5% and furniture items by 5.9%, sales at building material shops fell by 12.1%.
The other positive news for the US economy was the weekly report from the Labour Department on Thursday. Initial jobless claims in the US fell sharply to 576,000 in the week to April 10, down from 769,000 the previous week. This is the lowest level since the pandemic began, below economists' expectations of 700,000.
On the background of positive reports of the US economy, as well as strong performance of the US banks, which reported their financial results for the first three months of 2021 on Wednesday and Thursday, the main US indices closed with a significant increase on Thursday.
The S&P 500 rose 1.1% on Thursday, boosting gains over the past three months to 9.46%, the Dow Jones index rose 0.9% and 9.6% over the same periods, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.3% and 6.9% respectively.