Stocks rose at the open on Thursday after a surprise profit from Alcoa Inc boosted the start of the earnings season.

Strong monthly sales from major U.S. retailers, including Target Corp and Macy's Inc , added to the positive tone, along with a report that the number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless insurance to a nine-month low last week.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 58.80 points, or 0.60 percent, at 9,784.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 6.35 points, or 0.60 percent, at 1,063.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 12.14 points, or 0.58 percent, to 2,122.47.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)