Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday, after the release of upbeat U.S. jobless data, while the minutes of the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting signalled the possibility that the central bank could begin tapering its stimulus program sooner than expected.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.34%, the S&P 500 index gained 0.31%, while the Nasdaq Composite index climbed 0.51%.
The Department of Labor said the said the number of people filing for initial jobless benefits last week fell by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, beating expectations for a decline of 9,000.
A separate report showed that U.S. producer price inflation declined 0.02% in October, in line with expectations.
The data came after Wednesday's minutes of the Federal Reserve's October meeting indicated that the bank could start scaling back its stimulus program in the "coming months" if the economy continues to improve as expected.
Among earnings, Sears Holdings posted a wider third-quarter loss, sending the department-store chain's shares down 2.79%.
In the financial sector, Goldman Sachs added 0.16% despite reports the bank's revenue from its currency-trading unit slumped during the third quarter.
JPMorgan Chase was also higher, up 0.52%, after reaching on Tuesday a record USD13 billion settlement with federal and state authorities to resolve claims over its sales of mortgage-backed securities during the housing crisis.
Elsewhere, Hologic, a maker of cervical cancer and breast biopsy tools, surged 3.23% as it adopted a shareholder's rights plan after billionaire investor Carl Icahn reported a stake in the company.
Other stocks expected to be in focus included Target, Dollar Tree, Abercrombie & Fitch and Gamestop, scheduled to report earnings later in the day.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The EURO STOXX 50 edged down 0.16%, France's CAC 40 slid 0.33%, Germany's DAX fell 0.19%, while Britain's FTSE 100 dipped 0.01%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined 0.51%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rallied 1.92%.
Also Thursday, data showed that China's HSBC manufacturing index ticked down to 50.4 in November, from a final reading of 50.9 in October, missing forecasts for a reading of 50.8.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release data manufacturing activity from the Philly Fed.
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