WASHINGTON (AFP) – US stocks finished higher on Thursday (May 6), after the Labour Department reported fewer new claims for unemployment benefits last week as the economy bounces back from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The data was the latest sign the world’s largest economy is roaring back as businesses reopen and authorities ease restrictions imposed last year to fight the virus.

The data eclipsed fears of an uptick in inflation that could cause the Federal Reserve to raise rates and increase borrowing costs sooner than expected, which has hit indices in recent weeks, particularly tech.

Investors are looking for more good news when the government releases the all-important employment report on Friday that is expected to show more strong hiring in April.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average pushed to a new high of 34,548.53 by the close, a gain of 0.9 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.8 per cent to end the day at 4,201.62, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.4 per cent to 13,632.84.

Stocks of Covid-19 vaccine makers continued to suffer after Washington on Wednesday said it would support a global waiver on patent protections for the shots, though the sell-off was less severe than the day before.

Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Services credited that to traders realising the complexity of reaching an agreement in the World Trade Organisation to allow widespread manufacturing of the vaccines, which Germany is against.

“This has removed a fear,” he said.

Nonetheless, Pfizer ended 1 per cent lower and Moderna lost 1.4 per cent, but Johnson & Johnson gained 0.4 per cent.

Dow climbs to record high