US STOCKS-S&P 500 hits record high; data shows healthier economy
* Initial claims drop 14,000 from previous week
* Existing home sales hit 10-month high
* Family Dollar rejects Dollar General's buyout offer
* Jackson Hole conference of central bankers to begin
* Dow up 0.5 pct; S&P 500 up 0.4 pct; Nasdaq up 0.1 pct (Updates to afternoon)
By Akane Otani
NEW YORK, Aug 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Thursday after a flurry of economic data showed an improving economy and as investors awaited the start of a central bankers' meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The S&P 500 climbed above its previous intraday record of 1,991.39, set on July 24, in Thursday morning trading. Investors are eyeing the benchmark index's approach to 2,000, a significant level it has yet to breach.
Market participants also refrained from making big bets on Thursday ahead of the start later today of the policymakers' meeting in Jackson Hole, which could provide clues on the timing of an interest-rate hike. U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak at the Jackson Hole conference on Friday. Continuación...