New York - US stocks opened higher Thursday, following European equity markets upward after the European Central Bank cut interest rates and announced plans for an asset-purchase plan.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 31.18 points (0.18 percent) to 17,109.46.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 3.24 (0.16 percent) to 2,003.96, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 10.24 (0.22

percent) to 4,582.81.

Against a background of growing concern that the single currency area is threatened by stagnant growth and deflation, the ECB cut its main “refi” refinancing rate to 0.05 percent from 0.15 percent.

The ECB also lowered its deposit rate and marginal lending rate and said it would undertake purchases of securities on a large scale to inject cash into the economy.

Equity markets in Britain, France and Germany all rose.

Meanwhile, US economic data showed a slight rise in weekly jobless claims and a decline in the US trade deficit in July.

On Friday, the Labor Department releases its jobs report for August. - Sapa-AFP