New York - US stocks rose modestly in early trade Thursday as investors digested a series of economic data ahead of Friday's big jobs report for March.

About 30 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 17.54 points (0.11 percent) to 16,590.54.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 1.63 (0.09 percent) to 1,892.53, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on 4.60 (0.11

percent) to 4,281.05.

Commerce Department data showed the US trade deficit for February jumped to $42.3 billion from $39.3 billion in January. Meanwhile, US jobless claims last week increased 16,000 to 326,000.


But markets were beginning to focus on Friday's jobs report, which is expected to show the US added 195,000 jobs last month.

“There is nothing at this time to suggest other than a reasonably quiet trading day,” said “But you never know.”

A report that Citigroup faces a criminal probe over a $400 million fraud at its Mexico unit shaved 1.0 percent off the stock.

Juniper Networks, a software and data network company, gained 1.4 percent after disclosing a plan to trim worldwide headcount by six percent.

Internet radio service Pandora reported that active listeners at the end of March were 75.3 million, an increase of eight percent from the year-ago period. Shares rose 4.9 percent.

Liquidity Services, an online auction marketplace, fell 11.2

percent after a disappointing result in a Defense Logistics Agency procurement competition. Bank of America said Liquidity lost an auction to a competitor for a contract tied to the supply vehicles and trailers.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury held steady at 2.80 percent, the same level as Wednesday. The 30-year declined to 3.63 percent from 3.65 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.