United Health edged higher after the Dow component posted earnings that matched expectations and topped revenue estimates. The health insurer reiterated its forecast for 2013 revenue growth and added earnings would be in a range of slightly down to up 4 percent.
BlackRock rallied to a three-year high after the money manager said its earnings jumped 24 percent, boosted by increased demand for equities.
Intel, American Express and Capital One are scheduled to post earnings after the closing bell.
So far, 51 S&P 500 firms have posted quarterly results this quarter, with 61 percent of companies reporting earnings above expectations and 69 percent beating revenue estimates, according to Thomson Reuters.
The Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Boeing 787 planes until the aircraft are proven to be safe to fly following a string of issues in recent weeks. Japan's All Nippon Airways, which currently has 17 Dreamliners, said it will cancel a total of 30 domestic and international flights Friday, affecting nearly 5,000 passengers. Boeing shares, which started the session in the red, rebounded to close higher. (Read More: Are Dreamliner Glitches Just 'Teething Issues?')
CBS soared to lead the S&P 500 gainers after the media company announced new steps to divest itself of its outdoor advertising business. And at least seven brokerages lifted their price target on the firm.
Apple dipped after JPMorgan and BMO cut their price target on the iPhone giant to $725 and $640, respectively.
Cisco Systems slipped after JPMorgan cut his rating on the networking-equipment company to "underweight" from "neutral."
Traders largely shrugged off a weak mid-Atlantic region that showed a decline in January, according to the Philadelphia Fed survey.
And worries over the debt ceiling lingered as U.S. lawmakers haggle over raising the $16.4 trillion federal borrowing limit. (Read More: Four Ways to Protect Against the Debt Ceiling)
"We doubt the last minute deal to avert the fiscal cliff tax increases did much to boost business confidence in early January, not when it only raised the prospect of an equally disruptive debt ceiling stand-off within another few weeks," wrote Amna Asaf, an economist at Capital Economics in a note.