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Retail sales surge 9.8 percent in March, spurred by stimulus

Retail sales surge 9.8 percent in March, spurred by stimulus
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Retail sales in March surged 9.8 percent as $1,400 stimulus checks were issued, the weather improved and vaccination rates increased.

The figure was well above the 6.1 percent economists expected, and was a return to form after major storms in February led to a 3 percent drop. That figure was revised upward to 2.7 percent.

The $619.1 billion in sales was a whopping 27.7 percent higher than last March, when the pandemic hit in earnest and lockdowns took hold across the country.

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Paired with a stronger-than-expected showing in weekly jobless claims, which fell significantly to 576,000, stock market futures jumped, with a 150-point increase, or 0.5 percent, expected for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Thursday's data are the latest signs of an economy waking up from an extended slumber, reflecting eased COVID-19 restrictions and a vaccination campaign that has already seen over a third of the population receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

It is also a boost for President BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE, who pushed aggressively to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill last month to stimulate the economy and get people back to work.