U.S. stocks opened flat in early trade on Thursday, following weaker-than-expected weekly jobless claims and December retail sales data.

The S&P 500 Index declined 0.14 points, or 0.01 percent, to trade at 1,276 at 10:00 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 1.70 points, or 0.01 percent, to trade at 11,721.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.14 percent.

The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims increased by 18,000 to 409,000 for the week ended January1 from the previous week's revised figure of 391,000, while economists expected 405,000. The 4-week moving average of initial claims declined 3,500 to 410,750 from the previous week's revised average of 414,250.

The weekly jobless claims data comes a day ahead of the government's monthly nonfarm payrolls report, which is the most closely-watched economic data pertaining to the jobs market and is a key gauge for the direction and pace of the economic recovery.

Retailers showed some softness in December same-store sales figures as the day after Christmas the major snowstorm that hit the East Coast kept shoppers from stores, overshadowing earlier holiday buying. Macy's declined 3.44 percent, Zumiez Inc. and Wet Seal plunged 10.95 percent and13.04 percent respectively.

ARM Holdings surged 6.49 percent after Microsoft said the next version of its Windows operating system will support ARM’s chips.

On Wednesday, US stocks climbed, supported by a stunning jobs report from the private sector, raising hopes for a strong nonfarm payroll data on Friday.

The euro declined 0.27 percent to 1.3114 against the dollar and the yen gained 0.20 percent against the greenback.

Crude oil futures declined 0.59 percent to $89.77/barrel and gold futures fell 0.02 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading higher with FTSE 100 up by 23.22 points, DAX30 up by 79.62 points and CAC 40 up by 25.71 points.