Stocks opened higher on Thursday as investors bet Wall Street might hold off from hitting fresh bear-market lows as a search for beaten-down shares provided support.

The likely bounce from three-month lows faces a drag from fresh government data showing the number of U.S. workers continuing to claim jobless benefits jumped to a record in the first week of February.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 43.97 points, or 0.58 percent, to 7,599.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 5.74 points, or 0.73 percent, to 794.16. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 12.47 points, or 0.85 percent, to 1,480.44.

(Editing by James Dalgleish)