On the economic front, import prices dropped 0.9 percent in November, posting the biggest fall in five months, as food and fuel costs tumbled, according to the Labor Department. Economists expected a decline of 0.5 percent.
Meanwhile, efforts to resolve the U.S.'s looming "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending hikes appeared to have moved on a step after it emerged that President Barack Obama and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner had discussed new proposals over the phone on Tuesday. The looming fiscal cliff is the biggest worry for Wall Street at the moment, according to a CNBC survey.
Apple edged higher amid reports that the tech giant is working with Hon Hai and Sharp to test designs for televisions.
Among earnings, Costco gained after the wholesale retailer beat Wall street expectations, thanks to higher membership fees.
Joy Global posted earnings that topped expectations, but shares declined after the mining equipment maker said its fiscal 2013 forecast would fall short of estimates.
Weekly mortgage applications rose last week as loan requests hit its third-straight high point for the year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.