Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday, supported by the release of upbeat U.S. jobless claims data and as investors turned to Friday''s highly-anticipated nonfarm payrolls report.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.31%, the S&P 500 gained 0.29%, while the Nasdaq Composite index added 0.24%.
The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits fell by 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 349,000.
Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 11,000 to 338,000 last week.
A separate report showed that U.S. non-farm productivity rose less than initially expected in the fourth quarter, while unit labor costs declined less than forecast.
Market players were looking ahead to Friday’s highly-anticipated nonfarm payrolls report for February, after job growth came in below expectations in December and January.
Google shares climbed 0.54% after Chairman Eric Schmidt said his company is experimenting with automation in ways that could "replace a lot of the repetitive behavior in our lives."
Speaking at a conference in Santa Monica, California, Schmidt added that "robots will become omnipresent in our lives in a good way."
In the same sector, IBM rose 0.25% as more than 1,000 workers went on strike at one of the company''s factories in southern China, in objection to the terms of their transfer to Lenovo as part of its $2.3 billion acquisition of the U.S. technology firm''s server business.
Yahoo shares added to gains, up 0.28%, following reports Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer decided to stop granting consumers access to its various online services through Google or Facebook. Users will now be required to register for a Yahoo ID to use the company''s portal services.
On the downside, Facebook slipped 0.15% after the social media giant and its photo sharing subsidiary, Instagram, said they will delete posts offering to buy or sell guns without background checks.
In earnings news, Costco Wholesale reported a 15% drop in quarterly profit, below analysts'' estimates, sending shares in the warehouse club operator down 3.14%.
Staples dove 10.82% after the office-supplies chain projected a quarterly drop in sales and said it was planning to shut as many as 225 stores in North America.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.37%, France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.60%, Germany''s DAX edged up 0.08%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 added 0.27%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.55%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index jumped 1.59%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish data on factory orders.
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