The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed at record highs Thursday after jobless claims fell for a third week while producer prices in July jumped.
The Dow finished up 14 points, or 0.04%, to 35,499. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% and the Nasdaq gained 0.35%.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose Thursday to 1.361%.
The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell for the third week in a row. Wholesale inflation in the U.S. in July jumped 7.8% year over year.
Investors also contended with increased risks from the spread of the delta virus variant, uncertainty about the Federal Reserve's stimulus tapering plans and recent regulatory crackdowns in China.
The jump in the producer price index contrasted with Wednesday's release of inflation data at the consumer level, which showed a slight moderation last month.
The slower pace of consumer price increases suggested to investors the Fed likely will refrain from pulling back on economic support anytime soon and led the Dow and S&P 500 to record closing highs.
However, Kansas City Fed President Esther George said it was time for the central bank to end its bond-buying program. The Fed has been buying $120 billion a month in Treasury, agency and mortgage bonds to keep interest rates low and support the economy during the pandemic.
“Today’s tight economy ... certainly does not call for a tight monetary policy, but it does signal that the time has come to dial back the settings,” George said Wednesday during a virtual seminar organized by the National Association for Business Economics.
George noted the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant threatened the recovery of the U.S. economy, saying the virus could lead to renewed restrictions and make consumers more cautious.
Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan told CNBC on Wednesday that he wanted the Fed to announce tapering plans in September and begin the gradual wind-down in purchases the following month.
Stocks in Asia fell Thursday as China widened its regulatory crackdown on businesses. Reports said the next target appeared to be insurance technology platforms. China also is struggling with containing fresh COVID outbreaks.
Oil prices were steady Thursday after the International Energy Agency cut its 2021 oil demand forecast as "new COVID-19 restrictions imposed in several major oil consuming countries, particularly in Asia, look set to reduce mobility and oil use."
Moderna (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report shares ended 1.6% higher following reports that said the Food and Drug Administration would authorize a third shot of coronavirus vaccine as soon as Thursday for certain people with weakened immune systems.
Micron Technology (MU) - Get Micron Technology, Inc. (MU) Report declined 6.4% Thursday after analysts at Morgan Stanley cut their rating on the stock by one notch to equal-weight amid a warning that "winter is coming" for the global memory chip sector.