U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday as a fall in jobless claims and a rise in productivity offered encouraging signs the recession may be easing.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 14.41 points, or 0.17 percent, to 8,689.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 3.47 points, or 0.37 percent, to 935.23. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 6.14 points, or 0.34 percent, to 1,832.06.