Among earnings, Procter & Gamble rose after the consumer goods manufacturer topped quarterly expectations and said this year's earnings should come in ahead of its earlier forecast and sales should rise at the higher end of its prior outlook.
Microsoft posted earnings that edged past expectations by a penny, but shares declined as the company posted revenue that fell short of estimates.
Honeywell edged higher after the diversified manufacturer reported quarterly results a shade above expectations.
Kimberly-Clark gained after the paper-based consumer products company reported quarterly results that edged past forecasts. In addition, the company handed in full-year 2013 earnings and revenue guidance that were mostly in line with Wall Street projections.
Tempur-Pedic soared after the mattress maker posted better-than-expected quarterly results, offsetting a downbeat earnings outlook for 2013. Meanwhile, smaller rival Select Comfort plunged after the company missed earnings and revenue forecasts and said its 2013 profit outlook was below Wall Street estimates.
In macroeconomics news, the Commerce Department will release new home sales for December at 10 am ET. Analysts will be watching to see if the recent recovery in the housing sector is sustained. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 385,000 sales, up from 377,000 in November.
"With homebuilders' sales expectations strong, we think that new home sales rose further last month," Paul Diggle, an economist at independent research firm Capital Economics said in a note on Thursday.
European shares traded higher after Germany's Ifo business climate index in January gained to its highest level in six months, providing further evidence of a turnaround after contracting late last year.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
FRIDAY: New home sales, Geithner's last day as Treasury Secretary, House recess until Feb. 4
More From CNBC.com: