This week’s positive economic news shows that President Donald J. Trump’s historic tax reform is already paying dividends for American workers and businesses, as the U.S. economy continues to grow.

USA TODAY: Dow jumps 323 points, closes above 26,000 for first time in its 121-year history

“The Dow closed above 26,000 for the first time Wednesday, continuing an early-year stock surge that has pushed the U.S. market to fresh records. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 322.79 points, or 1.3%, to a record 26,115.65. It was the Dow’s best one-day point gain in 14 months, or since the day before Donald Trump was elected president. The fresh milestone comes just 13 calendar days after the 30-stock index topped 25,000, marking the fastest 1,000-point climb in its history, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.”

FOX BUSINESS: Apple to add 20K jobs, pay $38B US tax bill to repatriate cash

“Apple (AAPL) on Wednesday said it will create 20,000 new jobs and establish a new U.S.-based campus as part of $350 billion in new ‘direct contribution’ to the economy. Apple also said it expects repatriation tax payments of roughly $38 billion due to changes enacted by the recently-passed GOP tax reform bill. The new tax code calls for a 15.5% repatriation tax rate….The Cupertino, California-based tech giant said its investments will focus on job creation, spending with U.S. suppliers and an expansion of the App Store, Apple’s digital content hub.”

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Jobless claims drop to lowest level in nearly 45 years

“New applications for unemployment insurance benefits plunged by 41,000 to 220,000 in the second week of 2018, the Labor Department reported Thursday, the lowest level in nearly 45 years. The report easily beat forecasters expectations for new jobless claims to drift down to around 250,000. Low jobless claims are a good sign because they suggest that layoffs are relatively scarce.”

THE HILL: Humana credits GOP tax bill for boost to employee benefits, wages

“Health insurer Humana said it will be raising the hourly minimum wage for all of its employees as a result of the GOP tax bill. The legislation signed by President Trump last month slashed the corporate tax rate in an attempt to boost wages and add new jobs in the U.S….The company will accelerate the timing for employees to start an annual performance-based incentive program. Instead of beginning in 2019, it will start in 2018. Payouts will occur in March 2019. Humana also said it intends to raise the minimum hourly wage for all full- and part-time employees to $15.”

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Buybacks, Pension Contributions and Savings: Companies Tout Tax Benefits

“Some of the biggest U.S. companies are promising significant annual savings, bigger pension contributions, higher dividend payments and more extensive stock buybacks as executives start to discuss the impact of the federal tax overhaul. The announcements come as companies begin to report what are expected to be strong fourth-quarter financial results. A major focus will be executives’ expectations for how their operations and results this year will be affected by the tax law, which lowered the corporate rate to 21% from 35% and ended U.S. taxes on most future foreign income.”

BLOOMBERG: U.S. Manufacturing Output Rose in December for Fourth Month

“U.S. factory production rose for a fourth straight month in December, capping the strongest quarter since 2010 and underscoring a resurgence in manufacturing that’s primed for further advances, Federal Reserve data showed Wednesday….Stronger consumer spending, increased business investment and more shipments of merchandise to overseas customers are providing plenty of fuel for the nation’s producers. What’s more, the lowest business inventory-to-sales ratio in three years could translate into increased production in coming months. Factory output climbed 1.3 percent in 2017, the strongest annual reading in five years.”

HOUSTON CHRONICLE: U.S. expected to become net exporter of natural gas for first time in decades

“The U.S. could become a net exporter of natural gas in 2018 for the first time since 1957, thanks to increased natural gas exports to Mexico, LNG exports to at least 20 countries and less gas flowing into the country from Canada, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Exports of LNG continue to grow, as terminals on the Gulf Coast reach full capacity, and with planned terminal additions in Maryland, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana, the Energy Department expects that by 2019 the U.S. LNG capacity will be the third largest in the world. U.S. pipeline capacity to Mexico is also expected to double by 2019.”