Initial claims for unemployment benefits declined by 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 341,000, the U.S. Labor Department said.
Stocks were broadly lower in Europe, however, and U.S. markets followed.
Eurostat said the eurozone's gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2012 dropped for the third consecutive quarter. The eurozone's economy was flat for the two quarters prior to the downturn, meaning the GDP in the 17-member currency region has not grown for five consecutive quarters.
By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 9.52 points or 0.07 percent to 13,973.39. The Nasdaq composite index added 1.78 points or 0.06 percent to 3,198.66. The Standard & Poor's 100 gained 1.05 points or 0.07 percent to 1,521.38.
On the New York Stock Exchange, a nearly even split. On the day, 1,511 stocks advanced and 1,507 declined on a volume of 3.7 billion shares traded.
The 10-year treasury note rose 2 2/32 to yield 2.001 percent.
Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.336 from Wednesday's $1.3453. The dollar fell to 92.96 yen from 93.42 yen.
The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo gained 0.5 percent, 55.87 points, to 11,307.28.
In London, the FTSE 100 index gave up 0.44 percent, 28 points, to 6,331.11.
First-time unemployment claims held above 400,000 from April 2008 through October 2011. Claims spiked up to 451,000 after Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast in late October 2012. They have run steadily below 400,000 since.