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The US economy recorded the fastest first-quarter growth in almost four decades, the commerce department said on Thursday, helped by significant fiscal stimulus and looser lockdown restrictions.

Gross domestic product advanced 6.4 per cent on an annualised basis, topping economists’ expectations for 6.1 per cent growth, according to a Refinitiv survey.

Joe Biden hailed the country’s economic revival this week in an address to a joint session of Congress, declaring America was “ready for take-off” as he appealed for lawmakers to approve his sprawling spending agenda.

Jay Powell, the Fed chair, acknowledged this week that the US economic recovery had progressed “more quickly than generally expected” but added it remained “uneven and far from complete” and said the central bank was “a long way” from its goals for the economy.

US economic growth has accelerated as more Americans are vaccinated against coronavirus and states and cities have begun to relax pandemic curbs. By Thursday the US had administered 234.6m doses, and 98m Americans are fully inoculated — representing 29.5 per cent of the total population.

Column chart of GDP change (% annualised) showing US growth regains momentum at start of 2021

Wall Street welcomed the GDP figures. The benchmark S&P 500 index posted another record high and commodities rallied on hopes the recovery was strengthening. The 0.7 per cent increase in the S&P 500 share index took it above the record closing it achieved just two days ago, extending the year-long rally. US consumer spending data are released today.

A coronavirus passport is seen as vital to restarting travel this summer. But in place of a unified global system, a mishmash of potentially conflicting initiatives is emerging.

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EU charges Apple with antitrust abuse The EU has formally charged Apple with breaking antitrust law by charging high commission fees in its App Store and forbidding app developers from telling their customers about other ways to subscribe to their services.

Dozens crushed to death at Jewish festival in Israel At least 44 people were crushed to death and more than 100 injured at an overcrowded ultra-Orthodox religious festival in Israel on Thursday night. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called what is thought to be one of the country’s deadliest civilian accidents “a heavy disaster” as he visited the holy site of Mount Meron. Israelis took to the radio to publicise information on their missing relatives. (FT, Times of Israel)

Amazon reaps rewards With consumers shopping and streaming video online and homeworking boosting its cloud computing business, Amazon reported its second straight quarter of $100bn-plus sales, comfortably beating Wall Street’s targets. Twitter’s user growth fell short of expectations for the third consecutive quarter despite a broader digital advertising surge.

Chinese regulators summon tech groups Officials have instructed 13 tech companies including Tencent and ByteDance to “rectify prominent problems” on their platforms, a sign that the regulatory pressure on the fintech sector is extending beyond Jack Ma’s Ant Group. Sign up here to receive our #techAsia newsletter, your guide to the billions made and lost in Asia tech, in your inbox every Wednesday.

France to punish signatories of rightwing ‘call to arms’ The military command and the government have vowed to punish active officers and force rightwing reservists into retirement over an incendiary declaration that mourned the country’s “disintegration” because of Islamist radicalism and hinted at a coup d’état.

‘Chief heat officers’ Cities including Miami-Dade County, Athens and Freetown in Sierra Leone are responding to the threat of rising temperatures by creating dedicated “chief heat officer” executive positions to address a problem that will be accentuated by climate change.

Head of risk at Credit Suisse to step down Andreas Gottschling, the head of Credit Suisse’s risk committee, is to step down ahead of a threatened shareholder rebellion at the bank’s annual general meeting on Friday as the Swiss bank reels from the twin crises at Greensill and Archegos Capital.

Quantum computing coming to markets Quantum computing could be brought to bear on some of the most complex calculations in financial markets within five years, considerably earlier than expected, according to research jointly conducted by Goldman Sachs.

Earnings Oil majors Chevron and ExxonMobil report first-quarter earnings, with the latter under pressure from activist hedge fund Engine No 1 to reduce reliance on carbon fuel.

IPO Vaccitech, the company that owns the technology behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, raised $111m through its initial public offering on Thursday, valuing it at $579m. Shares begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange on Friday.

Allied troops withdraw from Afghanistan US, UK and Nato forces will begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan on Saturday ahead of a September 11 deadline.

Bitcoin: too good to miss or a bubble ready to burst? The year-long rally has so far defied fears of a repeat of bitcoin’s spectacular price crash of 2018, turning former crypto bears such as Jamie Dimon more bullish. FT Money has spoken to finance professionals inside and outside the cryptomarket.

Line chart of $

Fund earns ‘Gamma Hammer’ moniker with bet on tranquil markets The $350bn fund manager Parametric has earned itself the nickname ‘Gamma Hammer’ by selling options contracts worth billions of dollars that protect against a near-term jolt in US equity markets to other players on Wall Street. By some calculations, the trade’s size is worth roughly $5bn in notional exposure each week.

‘Scenes from Dante’s inferno’: a doctor on India’s Covid crisis The virus has shown the roots of India’s problem are systemic — in the chronic under-investment and neglect of public health, writes a consultant physician and researcher in Mumbai.

A new deal for the young: saving the environment No generation should face a future blighted by climate and environmental devastation, writes our editorial board. All is by no means lost. Investment in renewables and other clean technologies has reached record levels, as have green bonds and electric car sales. Read more in our FT Series.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is seizing power in space with satellites Governments ruled the skies above our heads in the days of the Sputnik and Apollo missions. The balance of space power has now shifted away from countries to companies, writes John Gapper, with operators such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX controlling orbital space.

Malcolm Gladwell: ‘My writing had better have changed’ Journalism doesn’t have a lot of superstars, but when Lilah Raptopoulos met Malcolm Gladwell, she said it felt less like meeting a celebrity and more like she had disturbed a college professor in the middle of a Big Thought. They discussed crime, challenging convention and changing one’s mind.

Amazon caps big week of tech earnings San Francisco-based reporter Elaine Moore looks back on a busy week for tech earnings, with Amazon reporting its second straight quarter of $100bn-plus sales and Apple revealing revenues jumped more than 50 per cent in the first three months of the year.