US stocks rally despite record unemployment claims

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image copyrightANGELA WEISS
image captionThe normally-busy Times Square is almost deserted as New Yorkers stay in their homes

Top US share indexes have jumped for a third day in a row as investors hope a giant government relief package will blunt the economic blow from the coronavirus.

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 both climbed more than 6%, capping their best three-day streaks since the Great Depression.

The Nasdaq ended higher for a second day, up 5.6%.

The rise came despite data showing a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.

Firms in line for aid, including Boeing, helped drive the gains.

Weeks of losses

Shares in the aerospace giant jumped nearly 14% on Thursday. The company - which was in dire straits prior to the coronavirus closures, due to two fatal crashes - has seen its share price nearly double since the start of the week.

The rally follows weeks of stock market losses, as investors try to gauge the economic impact of nationwide business closures and restrictions on travel.

The US indexes, which have fluctuated wildly, remain more than 20% off their February highs amid concerns about the economic scarring that will be left by the pandemic.

However, they have rallied this week as governments around the world take steps to try to cushion the blow.

The US Congress is widely expected to pass a more than $2 trillion relief bill, which includes direct payments for American households and support for companies big and small.

The UK has also unveiled aid, including on Thursday a plan to provide grants for the self-employed.

Earlier, European markets also ended higher with London's FTSE 100 up 2.2%.

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