Markets steady as central banks take center stage

By the Associated Press | August 7, 2014 | 10:05 AM EDT

FILE - In this March 8, 2010, file photograph, a sign for Wall Street is shown near the New York Stock Exchange. Global stocks were mostly lower Thursday Aug. 7, 2014 as markets waited for central bank meetings in Europe and Japan while remaining on edge about tensions between Ukraine and Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are opening slightly higher after Europe's main two central banks decided to keep interest rates on hold.

Investors were encouraged by a drop in applications for U.S. unemployment benefits last week. The decline is further evidence that layoffs are easing.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 34 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,478 in early trading Thursday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose four points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,924. The Nasdaq composite rose 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,367.

Stratasys Ltd. soared 13 percent in early trading after reporting earnings that were well ahead of what analysts were expecting.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.47 percent, near its lowest level of the year.