The Dow Jones industrial average rose 27.65 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 15,498.32.
The Dow fell 48 points Wednesday, 93 points Tuesday and 46 points Monday. The blue-chip index hasn't lost ground four sessions in a row since December.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.57 points, or 0.4 percent, at 1,697.48, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index added 15.12 points, or 0.4 percent, at 3,669.12.
About 5.8 billion shares traded hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancing stocks outnumbered declining issues 1,993 to 1,056.
The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday the four-week average of initial jobless claims, viewed by economists as a fuller picture of the economy's health than the weekly report, fell to 335,500, the lowest level since November 2007, a month before the recession began.
The latest week's initial jobless claims rose 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 333,000, about 3,000 less than most economists expected.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note declined 0.021, or 0.8 percent, to yield 2.593 percent.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index tumbled 219.38 points, or 1.6 percent, to close at 13,605.56 as the yen strengthened ahead of the Bank of Japan's monthly policy meeting.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed up 67.04 points, or 0.3 percent, at 21,655.88, as China's economy showed signs of stabilizing after a six-month slowdown.
July trade data released Thursday showed stronger-than-expected global demand for China's exports. Exports increased 5.1 percent after falling in June. A fuller picture will come Friday, when China's statistics bureau releases data on industrial output, retail sales and inflation.
Britain's FTSE 100 index rose 18.47 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 6,529.68.
The Stoxx Europe 600, which represents companies across 18 European countries, finished up 1.36, or 0.5 percent, to close at 304.17.
Crude oil for September delivery fell 97 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $103.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest price since July 30.
North Sea Brent crude for September delivery settled 76 cents lower at $106.68 a barrel on the IntercontinentalExchange,
Gold for December delivery rose for the second straight session, adding $27, or 2.1 percent, to settle at $1,312.27 a troy ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
September silver inched up 72.7 cents, or 3.7 percent, to settle at $20.235 an ounce.
The U.S. dollar was almost even against the Japanese yen, slipping 0.01 percent to 96.70 yen. The euro traded at $1.3382, with hardly any change since late Wednesday.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, wheat for December delivery fell 2.5 cents at $6.5375 a bushel. December corn rose 1.5 cents to $4.5975 a bushel. November soybeans climbed 18.5 cents at $11.8425 a bushel.