US STOCKS-Nasdaq, S&P 500, close at records as jobless claims decline; Cigna slumps

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed at their highest levels ever on Thursday after data showed U.S. unemployment claims declined further last week, along with other mixed economic data in anticipation around Friday’s job’s report. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 14,000 to 385,000 in the week ended July 31, while layoffs dropped to their lowest level in more than 21 years last month as companies held on to their workers amid a labor shortage, the Labor Department’s report showed. “The directional change has continued to be improving in the last few weeks and now it’s a new low since beginning the pandemic,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at Globalt Investments in Atlanta, Georgia.

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