A pair of government reports out Thursday boosted hopes that the economy continues to improve. Reuters reports:

Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods surged in April on strong demand for transportation equipment and a range of other products, but continued weakness in business spending plans suggested the manufacturing rout was far from over.

The Commerce Department said orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft meant to last three years or more, jumped 3.4 percent last month after increasing 1.9 percent in March.

Still, the rise in durable orders last month was another signal that the economy was gaining steam after growth slowed to a 0.5 percent annualized rate in the first quarter.

That view was supported by a separate report from the Labor Department showing initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 268,000 for the week ended May 21, near their cycle lows.

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