The services sector grew at its fastest pace in 10 months in December, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Meanwhile, factory orders were flat in November, according to the Commerce Department.
Stocks finished slightly lower Thursday, as investors became nervous that the Federal Reserve could take action to end bond purchases earlier than expected. Still, all major indexes are still on track to finish sharply higher for the week. (Read More: Why Central Banks Still Hold All the Cards in 2013)
Meanwhile, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told CNBC that the Fed embarked on a third round of quantitative easing too early and that he would have waited in case the global economy deteriorated more significantly. Bullard is a voting member this year. (Read More: Hey Market, Chill Out: Fed's Not Going Anywhere)
Samsung Electronics is expected to widen its lead over rival Apple in global smartphone sales in 2013 with a 35 percent growth, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple shares declined 2 percent, putting a damper on the Nasdaq.
Citigroup rose after Goldman Sachs added the bank to its "conviction buy" list. Meanwhile, JPMorgan was removed from Goldman's "conviction buy" list, though the brokerage still rates the stock a "buy."
Lululemon slumped after the sports apparel retailer was downgraded to "neutral" from "outperform" at Credit Suisse.
Chipmakers including Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and Texas Instruments were mixed even after the Semiconductor Industry Association reported that November sales were up 2 percent from a year earlier, marking 2012's first year-over-year gain for the industry.
Alcoa and Wells Fargo are scheduled to report quarterly results next week, kicking off the fourth-quarter earnings season.