NEW YORK, Mar. 14 -- U.S. stocks traded higher on Thursday, with the Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index just several points shy of its record high, boosted by better-than-expected U.S. jobs data.
The main stock indices opened higher, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average scored Wednesday a nine-session winning streak, which was the longest in 16 years.
The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims in the week ending March 9 was 332,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 342,000, according to the U.S. Commerce Department Thursday.
The four-week moving average, a smoother indicator, stood at 346,750, a decrease of 2,750 from the previous week's revised average of 349,500.
The Commerce Department also reported that the U.S. Producer Price Index for finished goods increased 0.7 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, following a moving-up of 0.2 percent in the prior month.
Meanwhile, the U.S. current account deficit dropped to 110.4 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2012 from a revised 112.4 billion dollars in the third quarter.
Wall Street was also bolstered by a broad rally in Asian and European equity markets. A strong demand for Spanish government bond added to positive sentiment in the market.
In corporate news, Amazon shares fell after JP Morgan Chase downgraded its rating on the e-commerce giant's stock from " overweight" to "neutral".
However, eBay shares jumped after an analyst from Evercore Partners upgraded his rating on the online retailer's stock from " equal weight" to "overweight".
In midday trading, the blue-chip Dow rallied 58.93 points, or 0. 41 percent, to 14,514.21. The broader S&P 500 moved up 5.99 points, or 0.39 percent, to 1,560.51. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 10.22 points, or 0.31 percent, to 3,255.34.