US STOCKS-S&P 500 sets record close on signs of healthier economy
* Initial jobless claims drop 14,000 from previous week
* Existing home sales hit 10-month high
* Investors await Yellen speech from Jackson Hole conference
* Dow up 0.4 pct; S&P 500 up 0.3 pct; Nasdaq up 0.1 pct (Updates to close)
By Akane Otani
NEW YORK, Aug 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended higher on Thursday, with the S&P 500 at a record after a flurry of positive economic data, as investors hoped for signs from an annual meeting of central bankers that interest-rate hikes are not imminent.
The S&P 500 broke two records during Thursday's session, climbing past its previous intraday all-time high of 1,991.39 and ending above its previous record close of 1,987.98. Both had been set on July 24. Investors are anticipating that the benchmark index will touch the 2,000 level, which it has yet to breach.
Market participants refrained from making big bets before Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech on Friday at a policymakers' meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which could provide clues on the timing of an interest-rate hike.
"The real question will be, with the bullish economic data, will Yellen's comment in Jackson Hole remain as dovish as the market hopes it will be?" said Lawrence Glazer, managing partner at Mayflower Advisors in Boston. Continuación...