US STOCKS-Wall St hits record after data; Jackson Hole ahead
* Initial claims drop 14,000 from prior week
* Family Dollar rejects Dollar General buyout offer
* Jackson Hole conference to begin
* Indexes up: Dow 0.42 pct, S&P 0.27 pct, Nasdaq 0.05 pct (Updates to market open; adds data, quote)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Aug 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks inched higher on Thursday and the S&P notched a record high as a flurry of data pointed to steady improvement in the economy and investors awaited the start of a meeting of top central bankers and economists in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Policymakers are due to discuss the labor markets of major economies at the Aug. 21-23 meeting, with U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen scheduled to speak Friday. Investors will peruse officials' remarks for clues on the timing of an interest rate hike.
The first of a string of economic data releases on Thursday came in the form of initial jobless claims, which fell to a seasonally adjusted 298,000 last week, a drop of 14,000 from the prior week, and slightly below the 300,000 estimate.
Financial data firm Markit said its preliminary or "flash" U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 58 in August, its highest since April 2010, from 55.8 in July. Economists polled by Reuters expected a reading of 55.7. Continuación...