NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- After diving in and out of positive territory earlier, major U.S. stock indices were firmly in the green by the afternoon session, buoyed by optimism ahead of Friday's jobs report and comforting hints of stimulus from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.29% and the S&P 500 gained 0.21%, both trimming gains after scoring record intraday highs earlier in the session. The Nasdaq climbed 0.13%.
Must Read: Warren Buffett's Top 10 Dividend Stocks
There is cautious optimism on Wall Street regarding the improving domestic job market, with economists expecting an increase of 240,000 jobs when the October jobs report is released before market open Friday.
"We could see a number possibly north of 250,000 based on some of the early reads that have come out from other series so I think we could see an upside surprise," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments, in a phone call.
Earlier Thursday, a drop in the number of claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. backed up data supporting a tightening labor market. Jobless claims declined 10,000 to 278,000, the lowest level in roughly 14 years, for the week ended Nov. 1. Analysts had expected claims of 283,000.
European equities surged, with Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 up more than 0.4%, after Draghi restated plans to introduce stimulus measures if needed. The ECB on Thursday kept its benchmark lending rate at 0.05%, a record low.
A eurozone recession has been of major concern to global markets after the European Commission slashed its outlook for the region's growth on continued deflation worries and unemployment woes. Its largest economy, Germany, reported anemic industrial orders growth of 0.8% in September, far lower than an estimated 2.3% gain.