U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday in a shortened week as strong earnings and outlooks bolstered optimism about the pace of the economic recovery.
General Electric Co
Morgan Stanley, the second-largest U.S. investment bank, rose 3.1 percent to $26.85 after reporting its first-quarter results.
But gains were curbed after government data showed new U.S. claims for unemployment benefits, despite falling last week, held above the key 400,000 level.
Does it really change the trend of the employment market? No, the trend still seems to be slightly improving but at a very slow rate, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York.
The news today on the earnings front is quite good.
Other economic data due on Thursday includes leading indicators for March, February home prices and the Philadelphia Fed's index of business conditions for the mid-Atlantic region for April are expected at 10 a.m..
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 24.14 points, or 0.19 percent, to 12,477.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 5.85 points, or 0.44 percent, to 1,336.21. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 14.34 points, or 0.51 percent, to 2,816.85.
Travelers Cos Inc
In contrast, McDonald's Corp
Volume is expected to remain light on Thursday before a three-day weekend. U.S. markets are closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)