On the economic front, jobless claims declined less than expected in the latest week, while consumer prices ticked up 0.1 percent in January, matching expectations.
Meanwhile, data from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showed manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic region unexpectedly contracted in February as new orders plunged.
Investors have been largely shrugging off lower-than-expected economic data over the last two weeks, pointing to harsh weather as a reason for unexpected weakness in reports.
Natural gas inventories were revised upwards but were still at their lowest for February since 2004. Nat gas futures spiked to settle at a five-year high on Wednesday on forecasts of another arctic air blast descending on North America.
(Read more: Market looking worn as traders ignore data)
American Apparel tumbled after the clothing manufacturer enlisted lawyers at Skadden Arps to work on restructuring options, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Among earnings, Wal-Mart fell after the big-box retailer handed in a disappointing full-year forecast. Adding to woes, Wal-Mart's same-store sales fell for the fourth quarter in a row.
Tesla Motors soared to hit an all-time high after the electric-car maker posted better-than-expected earnings and said deliveries of its Model S vehicles would spike more than 55 percent this year.
(Read more: Tesla forecasts a big 2014)