Stocks gained on Thursday as a surprise narrowing in October's U.S. trade deficit suggested the economy was on a steady growth path.

The Commerce Department said the trade deficit shrank 7.6 percent as a weak dollar helped boost U.S. exports of goods and services to their highest in nearly a year.

In a separate report, weekly jobless claims rose more than expected last week, but investors took comfort in news the four-week average, which provides a better view of underlying trends, declined.

After some good data this morning and a weak dollar, there is really no selling pressure now and the market is inching higher, said Keith Springer, president of Capital Financial Advisory Services in Sacramento, California.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 75.96 points, or 0.73 percent, at 10,413.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 8.04 points, or 0.73 percent, at 1,103.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 12.73 points, or 0.58 percent, at 2,196.46.

The greenback <.DXY> was little changed against a basket of major currencies after falling earlier in the day against the euro.

The major stock indexes slightly pared gains after a weak 30-year Treasury bond auction sparked concerns about the demand for U.S. government debt and the prospect of higher interest rates.

Coca-Cola Co shares gained 1.5 percent to $58.71 as one of the top boosts to the Dow after the soft-drink maker resolved a dispute with Costco Wholesale Corp that led the large retailer to halt orders of Coke products.

Costco shares slipped 0.5 percent to $58.36.

United Technologies Corp was up 0.7 percent to $67.91 after JPMorgan raised its price target to $74 from $70 and a day after United Technologies agreed to buy wind turbine maker Clipper Windpower Plc for $271 million.

Time Warner Inc shares rose 4.3 percent to $30.48 after completing its spinoff of AOL Inc , which in its first day of trading shed 2 percent to $23.20 from its when-issued price.