US stocks opened higher Thursday after stronger-than-expected Chinese trade data that boosted growth hopes for the world's second-biggest economy.

After 25 minutes of trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 39.47 (0.29 percent) at 13,429.98.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 6.11 (0.42 percent) to 1,467.13, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 15.30 (0.49 percent) at 3,121.11.

China said its trade surplus surged 48.1 percent in 2012 from the previous year, helped by a 7.9 percent rise in exports. The strong trade data lifted Asian and European stock markets.

On Wall Street, news that Nokia boosted its fourth-quarter earnings guidance and that Ford doubled its quarterly dividend lent support to US stocks, said analyst Patrick O'Hare.

On the downside, Tiffany & Co released an earnings warning, while Morgan Stanley downgraded Microsoft, O'Hare said.

US jobless claims rose by 4,000 last week to come in at 371,000, the government reported, above the 364,000 estimated by analysts. - Sapa-AFP