Apple climbed as first reviews of the new iPhones released overnight showed mostly positive reactions for the 5C and 5S. In addition, the tech giant's redesigned iOS 7 mobile-operating system will be available Wednesday as an upgrade for older iPhones and iPads.
(Read more: Apple's silence on iPhone 5C pre-orders)
BlackBerry declined after the Wall Street Journal reported that the troubled smartphone maker is preparing to lay off up to 40 percent of its staff by the end of the year, citing people familiar with the matter. Earlier, the company unveiled its new Z30 phone, in an effort to compete with the likes of Apple's new iPhone 5S and Samsung's Galaxy S4.
Shares of online travel website Priceline.com hit $1,000 for the first time.
Among earnings, FedEx rallied after the package delivery company posted quarterly results that edged above expectations. Rival UPS also ticked higher.
General Mills posted lower quarterly earnings, but shares of the cereal maker rose after the company said sales rose thanks to the addition of new businesses.
Adobe Systems reported disappointing quarterly earnings and revenue. However, shares of the software maker jumped to lead the S&P 500 gainers following news that it is seeing strong demand for its Creative Cloud service.
Enterprise software maker Oracle is slated to post earnings after the closing bell.
Caterpillar was downgraded by Baird Equity Research to "neutral" form "outperform." The brokerage pointed out that the company's 2014 growth prospects are likely "subdued."
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said Washington is stuck in a stalemate over budgets, debt and healthcare costs, leaving government unable to function properly, speaking at a gathering of CEOs.
(Read more: Next up for themarket? Government shutdown!)
On the economic front, housing starts rose less than expected, increasing 0.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 891,000 units in August, according to the Commerce Department. July's starts were revised down to show a 883,000-unit pace instead of the previously reported 896,000 units. Economists polled by Reuters expected a reading of 917,000 units.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said home loan applications rose 11.2 percent, after slumping 13.5 percent last week.
(Read more: Curious to see how the 'new' Dow would be performing?)