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US stocks open higher on Draghi; Data eyed

U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday, boosted by details on quantitative easing in the euro zone ahead of domestic data.

"We got a little lift from (Draghi) and we're waiting for a host of economic data," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

The ECB will start its 1 trillion euro ($1.1 trillion) bond-buying program on March 9, with expectations to end in September 2016, Draghi said during a press conference.

Read MoreECB meeting live blog

The euro (Exchange:EUR=) edged higher but still held below $1.11. Earlier, the euro touched an 11-year low in European trading ahead of the meeting.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield dipped to 2.10 percent.

"The broader market applications are the central banks are going to stay very vigilant to promote economic output," said Tim Dreiling, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

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U.S. monthly jobless claims rose 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 320,000 for the week ended Feb. 28, above estimates.

Productivity topped estimates with a decline of 2.2 percent versus estimates of a 2.3 percent decline but below the 1.8 percent pace it had reported last month.

Traders are also waiting for Friday's February U.S. jobs report, expected to be show about 240,000 nonfarm payrolls, below the 257,000 last month.

Government offices in Washington D.C. will be closed Thursday due to severe weather conditions.

"I think the overall trend that we're watching today is a modest growth in the U.S.," Dreiling said. "So many trends in the labor market (are) going in the right direction."

Food and general bulk merchandise retailer Costco Wholesale reported better-than-expected quarterly profit early Thursday, boosted by a tax benefit related to its special cash dividend last month.

Costco, the third-largest U.S. retailer, said net income rose to $598 million, or $1.35 per share, for the second quarter ended Feb. 15, from $463 million, or $1.05 per share a year earlier.

Simon Property (SPG) is mulling a bid for rival mall owner Macerich (MAC), according to the Wall Street Journal. Simon hasn't made a formal offer as yet, although it did reveal a 3.6 percent stake in Macerich last year.

Piper Jaffray downgraded McDonald's (MCD) to "neutral" from "overweight," saying that the stock is appropriately valued after a recent 12 percent increase, and that initiatives to increase sales may work more slowly many expect.

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Cooper Cos., Diamond Foods, Esterline Tech and Fresh Market report after the close.

Markets also await information on Fed bank stress tests, expected after the closing bell.

European markets cheered the QE news, while Asian markets ended mostly in the red with China's lower GDP growth target of 7 percent, the lowest in 11 years.

On tap this week:

Thursday

Chain store sales

ECB Governing Council Press Conference

Earnings: Cooper Cos., Diamond Foods, Finisar, Quiksilver

10 a.m.: Factory orders

10:30 a.m.: Natural gas inventories

4:30 p.m.: Fed balance sheet/Money supply

Friday

Weekly rig count

Earnings: Foot Locker, Staples

8:30 a.m.: Nonfarm payrolls

8:30 a.m.: International trade

3 p.m.: Consumer credit

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