The stock markets in the United States gained as investors become optimistic on the strength of the economy based on jobs and retail sales data today. Sign up for our free newsletter The Department Labor reported that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits was 279,000 for the week ended June 6—the 14 th straight week below 300,000—a sign that the labor market remained strong. The Department of Commerce reported that the retail sales increase 1.2% in May. According to the agency, the biggest gainers last months were auto dealers and retailers of clothing and building materials. In an interview with Bloomberg, Krishna Memani, chief investment officer at Oppenheimer said, "For the markets to do better we need good news about the economy. If the retail sales data were weak, we would have had a problem, but it isn't. While the data isn't knocking the cover off the ball, it's reasonable and a solid recovery." Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies commented, "The consumer took a month off and came back and spent in style. Consumers' behavior has been inconsistent, but the trend has been for gradual acceleration of spending." Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc., said, "The labor market is reasonably good. Consumer spending is getting support from the labor market clearly and from some income growth." According to the Federal Reserve, the wealth of households increased 2% or $1.63 trillion in the first quarter.