U.S. stocks rose Thursday morning as the European Central Bank (ECB) provided support for European banks and U.S. economic data proved better than expected.

The S&P 500 Index rallied 3.05 points, or 0.27 percent, to trade at 1,147.08 at 10:58 a.m. ET.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 10.07 points, or 0.09 percent, to trade at 10,950.02. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.64 percent.

The market's behavior this week has proved that investors in global markets are closely watching the European debt crisis.

A report late Tuesday that Eurozone authorities are discussing ways to recapitalized European banks sent global risk-assets soaring.

The ECB meeting on Thursday provided mixed news, but the positives outweigh the negatives.     

Presiding over the ECB event for the last time, outgoing ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet held interest rates steady, which disappointed some investors who had hoped for a rate cut.

He also warned that the economic outlook remains subject to particularly high uncertainty and intensified downside risks.

The ECB, however, did announce it will resume covered bond purchases and year-long loans to banks.  Both moves will provide relief for the ongoing European debt crisis and banking scare.

 U.S. economic data was positive.  Weekly initial jobless claims came in at 401,000, slightly besting economists forecast of 410,000, ahead of Friday's September jobs report. 

September U.S. retailer sales figures were better-than-expected, with same-store sales rising 5.1 percent.

Retailer Target (NYSE:TGT) surged 4.38  percent and retailer Saks (NYSE:SKS) rose 3.02 percent.