Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened mostly higher on Thursday, after the release of positive U.S. jobless claims data and as sentiment improved after the Federal Reserve said interest rates would remain low for some time.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow 30 dipped 0.02%, the S&P 500 added 0.10%, while the NASDAQ Composite edged up 0.10%.
The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending June 14 declined by 6,000 to 312,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 318,000. Analysts had expected jobless claims to fall by 4,000 to 314,000 last week.
Separately, at the conclusion of its two-day meeting on Wednesday, the Fed cut its bond purchases by another $10 billion a month, to $35 billion, saying there was "sufficient underlying strength" in the U.S. economy to continue tapering.
Despite this, the Fed also lowered its forecast for growth this year to a range of 2.1% to 2.3% from 2.8 to 3.0% previously, due to "unexpected contractions" in the first quarter as a result of the unusually harsh winter. The central bank still acknowledged a broad improvement in the labor market.
The Fed said it expects the federal-funds rate, currently close to zero, to reach 1.2% by the end of next year and 2.5% by the end of 2016, a slightly faster rate of tightening than formerly expected.
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) shares gained 0.54% after the online retailer unveiled its Fire Phone handset on Wednesday. Its first smartphone will cost $199 for the 32 GB version and $299 for the 64 GB.
General Electric (NYSE:GE) added to gains, up 0.11%, amid speculation the company could make an improved bid for Alstom (PARIS:ALSO)''s energy assets.
Elsewhere, American Apparel (NYSE:APP) soared 15.64% after the clothing maker replaced its founder and chief executive officer, Dov Charney, after an investigation into misconduct.
Among tech stocks, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) dipped 0.05% and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) edged up 0.08% after the New York attorney general’s office announced that the two companies plan to incorporate a "kill switch" into the next versions of their smartphone operating systems in order to deter theft.
In earnings news, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) reported less of a first-quarter loss than analysts had expected, sending shares up 11.88%.
Other stocks likely to be in focus included Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), scheduled to report quarterly results later in the day.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rallied 1.28%, France’s CAC 40 jumped 0.97%, Germany''s DAX gained 0.88%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 advanced 0.80%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng dipped 0.06%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 1.62%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish a report on manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region.