U.S. stocks slightly advanced in early trade on Thursday after official data showed that applications for jobless benefits fell last week.
The S&P 500 Index gained 1.07 points, or 0.08 percent, to trade at 1,329.06 at 9:40 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 8.86 points, or 0.07 percent, to trade at 12,359.47. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.11 percent.
The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims declined by 6,000 to 388,000 for the week ended March 26 from the previous week's revised figure of 394,000, while economists expected 380,000. The 4-week moving average of initial claims increased 3,250 to 394,250 from the previous week's revised average of 391,000.
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.
On the corporate front, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B) shares declined 1.71 percent to $84.00 following the surprise resignation of David Sokol, one of Warren Buffett's top lieutenants. David Sokol purchased shares of Lubrizol for about $9 million before urging Buffett to buy the firm.
U.S. stocks ended higher on Wednesday as positive speculation about US private sector jobs growth and deal news buoyed sentiment.
The euro advanced 0.53 percent to 1.3939 against the dollar and the yen declined 0.49 percent against the greenback.
Crude oil futures gained 1.87 percent to $106.22/barrel and gold futures advanced 0.91 percent.
European stock markets are currently trading lower with FTSE 100 down by 10.88 points, DAX30 down by 5.15 points and CAC 40 down by 24.46 points.