Stocks open higher as Greek crisis nears deadline

EILEEN AJ CONNELLY AP Business Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are opening higher as an increase in applications for unemployment benefits last week failed to dampen optimism over progress toward easing Greece's debt burden.

The Labor Department said early Thursday that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose more than expected. The four-week average remained near a four-year low.

Investors are keeping their eyes on a 3 p.m. EST deadline for private investors to decide whether to swap $140 billion in Greek government bonds for new ones worth much less. Early signs are indicating that the swap will succeed.

The Dow is up 75 points at 12,913 in the first 10 minutes of trading. The S&P 500 is up 9 at 1,362. The Nasdaq is up 19 at 2,955.