U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday after jobless claims fell more than expected, boosting optimism about the upcoming government payrolls report.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 8.94 points, or 0.07 percent, at 12,725.40. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 1.98 points, or 0.15 percent, at 1,326.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 5.72 points, or 0.20 percent, at 2,853.99.

(Reporting By Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)