Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday, after the release of upbeat U.S. jobless claims data and as investors turned to the a highly anticipated U.S. employment report due on Friday.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.51%, the S&P 500 gained 0.51%, while the Nasdaq Composite index advanced 0.66%.
The Labor Department said U.S. initial jobless claims fell by 20,000 to 331,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 351,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 16,000.
A separate report showed that the U.S. trade deficit widened 12% to USD38.7 billion in December, as exports dropped 2.2% and imports rose 1.6%.
Meanwhile, government data showed that U.S. non-farm productivity rose more-than-expected in the fourth quarter, while unit labor costs fell more than forecast.
Coca-Cola shares rallied 3.03% after the company said it plans to purchase a 10% minority stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters for USD1.25 billion. Green Mountain shares skyrocketed 35.46% following the news.
On the downside, Twitter plunged 21.98% after UBS cut its rating on the company to "sell" on Thursday, as Twitter''s first post-IPO earnings report sparked concerns over growth.
The company also said on Thursday that monthly users rose just 3.8% in the fourth quarter.
Elsewhere, General Motors saw shares drop 1.53% after the car manufacturer reported a fourth-profit below market expectations.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were sharply higher. The EURO STOXX 50 gained 0.78%, France’s CAC 40 rallied 1.05%, Germany''s DAX advanced 0.81%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 jumped 1.02%.
European stocks held gains after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the ECB sees a protracted period of low inflation, not full blown deflation, reiterating that the bank is "monitoring developments closely".
The recent slowdown in inflation is partly due to lower energy costs, he said, adding that the recovery in the euro area is "still fragile and still uneven".
The remarks came after the ECB voted to leave interest rates across the euro zone unchanged at their record low of 0.25%. It also left the deposit rate unchanged at zero and the marginal lending rate, which banks pay to borrow from the ECB, unchanged.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index gained 0.72%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slipped 0.18%.