Wall Street edged higher on Thursday on strong corporate earnings including Exxon Mobil and after a drop in weekly jobless claims offered a glimmer of hope for the anemic labor market recovery.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance dropped by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 457,000 in the latest week, versus the forecast of 459,000. Still, continuing claims rose more than expected.

Exxon Mobil Corp , the S&P's largest company by market capitalization, rose 1.2 percent to $61.66 after reporting a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

The S&P energy sector <.GSPE> added nearly 1 percent, also boosted by a 1.1 percent advance in crude futures.

The Exxon profit news this morning was positive, said Janna Sampson, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois. We're in a sideways trading market, reacting to good profits versus bad profits, with no real driver.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 37.09 points, or 0.35 percent, to 10,534.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 <.SPX> rose 3.03 points, or 0.27 percent, to 1,109.16. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> edged up 1.16 points, or 0.05 percent, to 2,265.72.

Technical measures such as the daily moving average convergence-divergence indicate the S&P 500 is in a strong position to rise, even though it has failed to close above its 200-day simple moving average since Monday. It briefly traded above the 200-day SMA Thursday morning.

The key now for the (S&P 500) is to hold above the 50-day line, near 1,080, which if it can, would put a lot of stress (on short-sellers), technical analysts at Instinet said.

France's Sanofi-Aventis plans to formally offer up to $18.7 billion for Genzyme Corp after its informal overture failed, sources said. Genzyme shares rose 3.4 percent to $70.26.

Further supporting equities, euro zone economic sentiment rose to a 28-month high in July while German unemployment fell to its lowest level since November 2008, boosting hopes for a pickup in the consumer sector.

Capping gains on the Nasdaq, Symantec Corp fell 8.3 percent to $13.45 a day after the world's No. 1 security software maker warned second-quarter sales and profit would likely miss estimates.

Also, chipmaker Nvidia Corp dropped 7.8 percent to $9.34 a day after it slashed its second-quarter sales outlook.

The PHLX semiconductor index <.SOXX> fell 1.5 percent.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)