The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

New York - US stocks Thursday opened lower as investors weighed weak Chinese trade data and an encouraging report on US jobless claims.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 14.32 points (0.09 percent) to 16,422.86.

The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 3.00 (0.16 percent) to 1,869.18, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 10.15 (0.24

percent) to 4,173.75.

March trade data for China, the world's second-largest economy, showed imports dropped 11.3 percent and exports fell 6.6 percent.

The figures are potentially another cause for concern about the Chinese economy, which has shown signs of weakness recently with a string of disappointing indicators on trade, industrial output and consumer spending.

But a weekly report by the US Department of Labor showed initial jobless claims fell 32,000 to 300,000, the lowest level in seven years. - Sapa-AFP