European shares extended gains into the Wall Street open on Thursday as an already positive sentiment was further supported by unemployment data confirming the U.S. jobs market is improving.

Americans filed fewer new claims for jobless benefits last week, adding to the view that next week's employment report could show companies are hiring at a brisk pace.

At 2:43 p.m., the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top European shares was up 1.04 percent at 1,086.32 points.

Banks <.SX7P> were among the top performers after an injection of European Central Bank cash on helped lower yields on Italian and Spanish sovereign bonds, fuelling hopes that the worst hour of the euro zone debt crisis may be behind us.

The momentum in US equities is correlating with strength in Europe, said Joshua Raymond, Chief Market Strategist at City Index. The LTRO (ECB Long-Term Financing Operation) have given a massive lift to liquidity and that liquidity has to find its place somewhere.

(Additional reporting by Brian Gorman)